Midfielder Alistair Johnston was the first SuperDraft pick to make a name for himself on Nashville SC's MLS roster.
But his impressive run with the club came to an end on Dec. 23 as CF Montreal acquired Johnston from Nashville in exchange for $1 million in allocation money, which is to be spread over the next two years. The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal first reported the news, which was later confirmed by MLSsoccer.com, although neither organization has announced the move yet.
Johnston and Montreal reportedly agreed to a new four-year contract following the trade. As part of the acquisition, Nashville will also receive 10 percent of any future sale, should Johnston be sold abroad.
The 23-year-old right back fetched $50,000 more in allocation money than Nashville SC gave up for reigning, two-time MLS Defender of the Year Walker Zimmerman in 2020. Johnston could be the first of several homegrown player trades in NSC’s future, as was hinted by General Manager Mike Jacobs in June.
“From a business standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to be able to develop your own players,” Jacobs told the Post. “The idea of being able to sell your players and take that money that you made on developing a player and selling them abroad, to then buy other players, to reinvest it back into your academy or other players abroad… That’s really how the business of our sport [works].”
Johnston had one goal and two assists with 12 shots in 44 appearances with NSC. He was a key cog in Nashville’s record-setting expansion defense in 2020 and helped key a back line that tied for a league-low 33 goals allowed in 2021.
The No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, Johnston made 18 appearances for the Canadian National Team in both World Cup qualifying matches and the Concacaf Gold Cup, scoring his first career international goal against the Cayman Islands in March.
Before entering MLS, Johnston spent two years at St. John’s University in New York City, scoring 10 goals in 36 appearances, before transferring to Wake Forest, where he switched positions from central midfield to right back. He tallied six goals in 43 appearances with the Demon Deacons.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_