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Mariner: TFC iron man Johnson an athletic "freak"

Ryan Johnson

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

TORONTO — Every meaningful game Toronto FC have played this season, whatever the competition, Ryan Johnson has played from start to finish.

He’s the only field player on TFC to log all 1,800 minutes of the regular season, and he also played every minute of the team’s four CONCACAF Champions League games and four Amway Canadian Championship games.

But Johnson got a break for the second half of the team’s friendly match against Liverpoo last weekend, all with the intention of one thing: playing more this weekend against the Houston Dynamo.

GOAL: Johnson with a classy chip

“I said to his family [two weekends ago], I’m not sure if you’ve got a freak here because he’s got at least three or four lungs,” Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner said after the Reds’ 2-1 victory over Colorado on July 18. “I don’t know how he does it. He’s resilient, he’s tough, he’s up for the cause every single game. He’s quite a remarkable athlete.”

Johnson has scored four goals and added four assists this seasons, and he’ll likely see even more responsibility with Danny Koevermans out with a torn ACL and recent trade acquisition Eric Hassli still acclimating to the team.

“I just really feel beat up right after the game and the day after,” Johnson said. “And the next day I’m pretty good. My body has pretty good recovery. I’m in pretty good shape … and I’ve been lucky with injuries.”

Added Mariner: “You can see the energy level that he brings. His mental toughness is as good as I’ve seen in a player.”

Johnson scored his fourth league goal of the season against Colorado after missing a penalty in the first half. But Mariner said the goal was an example of his ability and his confidence level.

“A beautiful little flick over the defender and a really nice little tap-in to finish it off,” Mariner said. “It was a quality goal.”

He also scored two goals in CCL this year and two more in the ACC.

“As we all know in professional sports, confidence is something that is drained away from you extremely quickly,” Mariner said. “But his confidence level – that’s what really what separates the men from the boys as far as finishing is concerned --  is incredible.

“He’s a great kid, he wants this team to be successful.”