Ryan Johnson, Jamaican National Team
Ryan Johnson is currently a member of the Jamaican Football Federation and plays on the Jamaican National Team.
A graduate of Oregon State University, Ryan has represented several MLS clubs including Chicago Fire, Portland FC and the San Jose Earthquakes. He has also played abroad.
How were you discovered? Did you have an agent?
I was discovered after making the MLS combine in 2006 after my College career. I was selected by Real Salt Lake in the MLS draft. I did not have an agent at the time.
How old were you when you began to play soccer?
I began playing soccer at 3 years old, maybe younger. My father played soccer. Everyone around me in my community played soccer growing up in Boston, Massachusetts after being born in Jamaica. I came to the states when I was 2 years old.
By what age did you know that this was what you wanted to do as a career? Was it a dream of yours to play professionally or did you fall into it because of your talent?
It was always my dream to be a pro. It’s the only thing I wanted to do. But I also knew that the odds were against me.
What traits did you have that distinguished you from your teammates?
I grew up playing with players that I thought could easily been a pro as well but life took a different turn for them. Some also lost interest and became interested in other professions as well. I was very relentless and very adaptable in my game. I played multiple positions and constantly trained on my own when I had free time.
Did you play other sports growing up? If so, at what age did you begin to focus primarily on soccer?
I played varsity basketball in high school. But I had to quit mid season because soccer took up too much of my time.
Did you find the training style in Jamaica to be very different than here in the US?
Yes the training style in Jamaica is more raw meaning the skill level of players is very high for the poor conditions. For example, fields and opportunities. In Jamaica the football is less organized and players develop dribbling skills fast because you grow up playing small sided games more. In the states players have the facilities with an abundance of fields to choose from.
Would you recommend that a player who may have the opportunity to train abroad do so?
I would recommend a player get a taste of how serious youth players take the game outside of America. It’s important for plalyers to gain an appreciation for how important the game of soccer is to other cultures.
What advice would you give young players who hope to play professionally for MLS or abroad?
I would advise players to ask themselves why they play soccer. If their “why” is strong, then go for it. This game teaches you a lot of life lessons. I’m very grateful to the game for it.