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2018 Player Profiles: Samantha Johnson

A bonus to a massive midseason trade.

Nikita Taparia

Samantha Johnson joined Utah Royals FC in June. Johnson was overshadowed in the media because she was attached to Utah’s mega-trade with Chicago Red Stars to bring U.S. Women’s National Team superstar Christen Press to Utah.

But Johnson was a key player for the Red Stars at defense. In 2017, she was the starting center-back and appeared in 22 games. The 2018 season marked her 5th year in the NWSL, initially signing with the Chicago Red Stars in 2014 after attending open tryouts. She was officially traded to Utah on June 18, 2018, but it wasn’t until June 30, 2018, that Johnson played her first minutes as a Utah Royal. Johnson’s first game resulted in a 3-1 win over Sky Blue FC.

In her first half season as a Royal, Johnson played six games despite being available for selection in 11. Johnson had started ten games for the Chicago Fire in the first half of the 2018 season before the trade. Unfortunately, when traded to Utah, Johnson saw her playing time get cut down to half. She went from being a consistent starter in Chicago to sitting on the bench as players like Becky Sauerbrunn and Rachel Corsie started at center-back. In those six games, Johnson won 39 duels and had 23 clearances.

But Johnson pretty quickly adapted to Utah and became a fan favorite. Not too long after her arrival, the Court of Royals dedicated a two pole sign for her. She was also involved in the Salt Lake community, visiting local soccer teams, participating in a parade, and making appearances for Utah Royals FC at community events.

As far as we know, it is expected that Johnson will return to Utah next year and continue to fight her way into a starting spot, and with Corsie and Sauerbrunn away at the 2019 World Cup next summer, we can expect to see Johnson as a starter more.

This off-season, Johnson is one of the many players in the NWSL on loan to the play in Australia’s W-League. In 2014, Johnson played for Sydney FC, and then in 2016, she played for the Melbourne Victory. Johnson has once again returned to play for the Victory for the 2018-19 season on loan from Utah.