Timbers in Tucson: Johnson believes Timbers are coming together in the preseason

Midfielder getting to know new teammates in Arizona

Will Johnson, Timbers vs. SKC preseason, 2.1.13

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Joshua Pearson / FC Tucson

Hitting the halfway point of the Portland Timbers time in Tucson has been a good experience so far for midfielder Will Johnson. Wearing the captain’s armband for portions of each of the team’s first two preseason Desert Friendlies, Johnson has been quickly finding his groove with his new teammates. There’s a new coach, new teammates, and for Johnson, a new uniform but so far, things have been going well.

“I feel the group has a lot of talent,” he said. “The group has the camaraderie going in the right direction. It’s fun to be a part of.”

WATCH: Porter & Johnson talk about SKC preseason loss

After spending the last four years in Real Salt Lake, this season’s preseason presents a unique experience for the Canadian international as he’s learning about an entirely new group of players. Apart from overlapping with defender David Horst briefly at RSL, Johnson had played with few of the other Timbers players. Along with Ryan Johnson, Milos Kocic, Diego Valeri, Ryan Miller, Michael Harrington and more, the team is quickly looking to find ways to gel. For Johnson, having this extended period away from the home confines of Portland helps create an atmosphere where players are naturally going to bond and build team chemistry.

READ: Will Johnson Q&A: Fiery midfielder wants to win

“We get to see each other more, go out to some dinners and stuff, see each other around the hotel and have some more team meals together. I think that’s a positive. I think that’s why they bring us down here,” said Johnson.

“We’re definitely getting to see some of the guys, get to know each other a little bit, start to make some friends on the team. Like I said, it’s a cool experience and I haven’t had this experience in the league in a long time.”

As intense daily training sessions continue in Tucson and the team looks to execute head coach Caleb Porter’s game plan throughout the remaining two matches against Seattle (Feb. 5, 9:30am PT, stream at www.portlandtimbers.com) and FC Tucson (Feb. 8) next week, it is all definitely building towards a larger goal ahead of the season opener on March 3.

“We have to come together quickly because as a team we’ll accomplish good things if we’re able to stay together and work together,” said Johnson.

But for now, Johnson and his teammates are both working hard and enjoying their time together with a renewed sense of energy.

“That initial period where you’re getting to know guys, who’s got families, and who likes to do what is fun.

I’m not the only one who’s enjoying it. It’s a good time.”