CF Montreal acquires Canadian international defender Alistair Johnston from Nashville

·3 min read

CF Montreal added to its defence Monday by acquiring Canadian international Alistair Johnston from Nashville SC.

The 23-year-old fullback from Aurora, Ont., who became a fixture in the Canadian backline this year after making his senior debut in March, came at a price. Montreal is giving up US$1 million in general allocation money — $750,000 in 2022 and $250,000 in 2023 — to get him.

And Nashville could receive an additional 10 per cent in transfer fee over the initial amount of $1 million,

Johnston, whose salary was a bargain at $73,079 in his second MLS season in 2021, has signed a new two-year deal with Montreal with option years in 2024 and 2025.

“We are pleased to welcome this young Canadian who had a strong desire to join the club,” Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard said in a statement. “Beyond his footballing qualities, Alistair has demonstrated an exemplary mindset with the Canadian national team.

"He is a versatile defender who can play both as a right back as well as part of a three-man defence. We will continue closely working with him to further his progression."

Reports of the trade first surfaced Dec. 23 but the deal was not confirmed by the two clubs until Monday.

Johnston has made 18 appearances for Canada, appearing in all but one of its 19 games this year.

He joins fellow Canadians Kamal Miller, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Zorhan Bassong and Joel Waterman in a Montreal defence that tied for 10th in the league last season, averaging 1.29 goals against a game.

Montreal added Italian youth international defender Gabriele Corbo earlier this month on loan from Bologna for the 2022 MLS season. It did not exercise contract options on Mustafa Kizza and Kiki Struna while fellow defender Rudy Camacho is out of contract at year's end.

A product of Wake Forest, Johnston was taken by Nashville in the first round (11th overall) in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.

He played in 44 games for Nashville, recording 39 starts and 3,510 minutes of playing time. He also saw action in five playoff matches.

Nashville conceded just 33 goals in 2021 with 13 shutouts, tied for first in MLS. Its goals-against average of 0.956 goals per game in 2020 was the best of any expansion club in league history.

“We would like to thank Alistair for his contributions to our organization, and we wish him success in the next step of his journey with Montreal,” Nashville GM Mike Jacobs said in a statement.

Born in Vancouver, Johnston was four when the family moved to Montreal and seven when it settled in Aurora. He was 16 when he made his debut in the Canadian youth program at an under-18 camp in 2015.

A midfielder converted to a right back at Wake Forest, Johnston also played for Vaughan SC and Vaughan Azzurri.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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