Former Portland Timbers striker Ryan Johnson has made a pioneering move across the Pacific to join Chinese club Henan Jianye FC, his agency reported via Twitter on Thursday.
Based in Zhengzhou in the nation's north-central region, Henan Jianye play in the Super League, China's top flight, after earning promotion from the second tier last year. The 2014 CSL season begins later this spring.
Ryan Johnson makes history as first American or Jamaican in Chinese Super League for Henan Jianye FC. Good luck Ryan! pic.twitter.com/opKtNFb93p— Global Premier Mgmt (@GlobalPremMgmt) February 27, 2014
Johnson scored nine goals and dished out four assists in 29 appearances for the Timbers last season. The Jamaican international also featured prominently in the Reggae Boyz' unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign.
At the close of Portland's 2013 campaign, Johnson signaled his intentions to test the overseas market but his MLS rights remain in the Timbers' hands since they reportedly made him a bona fide contract offer, a league official confirmed to MLSsoccer.com.
A powerful target man, Johnson has played in MLS since 2006, wearing the colors of Real Salt Lake, the Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto FC and PTFC during that time. He has 36 goals and 24 assists in 181 career regular-season appearances (136 starts).