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Real Salt Lake, designated player Sam Johnson agree to terminate contract

Real Salt Lake forward Sam Johnson (50) jumps for a header during a MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Real Salt Lake forward Sam Johnson (50) jumps for a header during an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

The strange tenure of designated player Sam Johnson at Real Salt Lake is officially over.

Weeks after a large party was allegedly held at Johnson’s residence — in violation of COVID-19 safety regulations — the club announced Saturday night that it had agreed with the Liberian to terminate his contract.

“The club will have no further comment on the situation,” the announcement read.

It marks the end of a relationship that saw more downs than ups over the course of just less than 19 months. Johnson was signed before the 2019 season after a transfer from Valerenga in Norway’s first division, and there were high hopes that he could finally be the quality striker that RSL has long needed.

He was RSL’s second-leading goal-scorer last season but appeared in just 15 of 26 games. This season, he appeared in just 10 games (three starts) and tallied just one goal.

A short time after the club made its announcement, Johnson made a post on Instagram in which he wrote, “I want to thank @realsaltlake the staff, my teammates and all the amazing fans #TheRiot❤️ and the @mls for the past 2 seasons. Great league @mls and country I wish you guys all the best.”

RSL will face the LA Galaxy on Sunday night as it tries to keep its playoff hopes alive with two matches remaining in the regular season.