Real Salt Lake signs Liberian forward Sam Johnson to a designated player contract

(courtesy of Real Salt Lake) RSL announces the signing of Liberian forward Sam Johnson, shown here with general manager Craig Waibel.

It looks like Real Salt Lake has its true striker.

The club on Monday announced the signing of Liberian forward Sam Johnson to a designated player contract. Johnson comes as a transfer from Valerenga, which is Norway’s first division.

“I’m ready for a new challenge in MLS,” Johnson said in a news release. “A lot of clubs came for me, but Real Salt Lake put more effort than the other clubs. I spoke with my advisor, I spoke with mom and some people who follow MLS closely and it was an easy decision for me. I feel like I can showcase myself in one of the biggest leagues in the world. I’m excited to be here and I look forward to playing for the fans in Salt Lake City.”

Johnson led Valerenga in scoring last year with 11 goals in 21 matches. He has played for clubs in his native Liberia, Sweden and China. In all, Johnson has scored 66 goals in 162 league matches since 2011 and 69 goals in 180 appearances across all competitions.

“I am happy to welcome Sam to the RSL family,” coach Mike Petke said in the release. “It will be good to get him integrated with the players and staff and up to speed on how we play. The addition of Sam will provide us with a strong option up front and will certainly create further competition on an already deep roster.”

The organization has been searching for a striker since the departures of Yura Movsisyan and Alfredo Ortuño last season. There were a few linked to RSL during the offseason, including Germán Cano.

The addition of Johnson could help with RSL’s lack of scoring last season. The team ranked 10th in Major League Soccer with 55 goals.

“We are excited to add a player of Sam’s quality to our attack,” general manager Craig Waibel said. “He adds a new dynamic to our front line and he is a great fit for our locker room and his work rate is a great representation of our club and its fans.”