Unsung hero Johnson gets the glory in RSL's 1-0 win

Will Johnson

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SANDY, Utah — Will Johnson is usually an unsung hero for Real Salt Lake. And in Saturday's 1-0 win over D.C. United, he played his usual hustling, scrappy game.

This time was different, however, as he also got the glory by scoring the game-winner.

The Canadian national teamer got on the end of a deflected cross from teammate Paulo Jr. in the 48th minute, beating a hesitant Bill Hamid to head the ball into the net for the game's lone goal.

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"The ball just sat up there nicely for me, and I stuck my head in there and I was lucky to get on the end of it and I knocked it in the back," said Johnson.

The goal was his third of the season, but his coach would like him to add to that total and be even more active in the attack.

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“In the first half I thought he played a little bit deep. He has a tendency to sometimes do that. I like him to play a little higher,” said head coach Jason Kreis. “I think when he does [play deep] it can cause us some troubles with winning the ball.

“In the second half, he was more aggressive with his positioning and that put him in a better position to attack. Obviously, I'm extremely pleased when somebody that works that hard scores the game winner — he deserved it.”

It is a bit of a conundrum for the 25-year-old when it comes to playing attacking soccer. Although he scored the goal, Johnson felt it was tough for him to get into the offense.

“I try to get forward as much as possible, but when we have nights where we struggle with the ball and Ned [Grabavoy] and I are doing a lot of running to get back, sometimes we hit balls up to the forward and it's just not possible to get up there and support and keep our shape," he said. “I try to get forward as much as possible, but on nights like tonight, ironically, I couldn't get forward a whole lot because we weren't good with the ball.

“This team is about defense,” continued Johnson. “I'm not a guy who is going to sacrifice my defensive responsibilities to try and get goals and boost my stats.”

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While he may not sacrifice his responsibilities, he is perfectly willing to give up his body like he was to get his goal.

“You can stick your head in there for the team and try to get one, and if I get hit in the face — I felt I was going to get hit, but I still felt I was going to get the ball first. I think most people that know me by now know I'm not a guy that's going to pull out when I have a chance to score a goal,” said Johnson.