Sporting KC acquired Scottish winger Johnny Russell in a transfer from English club Derby County FC in January 2018. Russell scored 93 goals during a 12-year professional career in England and his native Scotland prior to joining MLS. The attacking player arrived at Sporting KC after five seasons with Derby County in the second-division English Football League Championship, where he scored 34 goals in 203 competitive appearances.
2019: MLS regular season: Has started two of three appearances, recording one goal and one assist (199 minutes played). Assisted Krisztian Nemeth's opening goal in a 2-1 loss at LAFC on March 3. Came off the bench and scored a stunning free kick to salvage a late point in a 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids on March 17. Concacaf Champions League: Has started three of four appearances (166 minutes played). Started in both wins over Deportivo Toluca FC in the Round of 16. Assisted Roger Espinoza's goal in a 3-0 second-leg win over Independiente in the Quarterfinals on March 14. Open Cup: Has not featured. MLS Cup Playoffs: Has not featured.
2018: Was named Sporting KC's Offensive Player of the Year. MLS regular season: Started 24 of 30 appearances, recording 10 goals and 10 assists (2,183 minutes played). Made his Sporting KC debut in the 2018 season opener against New York City FC on March 4 at Children's Mercy Park. Scored his first MLS goal and tallied a game-winning assist in a thrilling 4-3 victory at the Chicago Fire on March 10. Assisted Felipe Gutierrez's game-winning strike in a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on March 17. Scored an MLS Goal of the Week winner in a 2-0 victory at the LA Galaxy on April 8. Scored the eighth hat-trick in Kansas City regular season history with a scintillating performance on April 20 as Sporting KC hammered Vancouver Whitecaps FC 6-0 at Children's Mercy Park. Russell earned Alcatel MLS Player of the Week honors for Week 8 on April 24 after dominant showing against Vancouver. Assisted Khiry Shelton's goal in a 1-1 draw at Minnesota United FC on May 20. Assisted two goals in a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over the Houston Dynamo on June 23, setting up Daniel Salloi's 59th-minute strike and Diego Rubio's 85th-minute equalizer. Came off the bench and assisted Ike Opara's goal in a 4-2 loss at Real Salt Lake on July 4. Scored his 100th professional goal in a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on July 7. Scored an early equalizer in a 3-2 loss at the New York Red Bulls on July 14. Came off the bench to score a late goal in a 3-0 win over Portland on Aug. 18. Assisted both goals in a 2-0 win over Minnesota United FC on Aug. 25, setting up Yohan Croizet's opener and Diego Rubio's tally. Assisted Ike Opara's second-half equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on Sept. 30. Scored a stunning solo goal to produce a pivotal late equalizer in a 1-1 draw with LA Galaxy on Oct. 6 as Sporting KC clinched a club-record eighth straight playoff berth. Came off the bench in the second half to assist Gianluca Busio's 94th-minute goal in a 4-1 victory at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Oct. 17. Buried an 87th-minute penalty kick in a 3-0 win at FC Dallas on Oct. 21 to become the fourth player in Sporting KC history to reach double-digits in both goals and assists in a single regular season. Open Cup: Started and played 75 minutes in a 2-0 fourth-round win over Real Salt Lake on June 6, scoring Sporting KC's go-ahead goal in the 47th minute before assisting Kharlton Belmar's strike in the 74th minute. Played 25 minutes as a second-half substitute in a 3-2 victory over FC Dallas in the Round of 16 on June 16. Started and played 90 minutes in a 4-2 quarterfinal loss at the Houston Dynamo on July 18, scoring a goal in the second minute and assisting Yohan Croizet's strike in second-half stoppage time. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started four matches and recorded one assist (345 minutes played). Started and played 90 minutes in a 1-1 conference semifinal first leg draw at Real Salt Lake on Nov. 4. Started and played 90 minutes in a 4-2 conference semifinal second-leg win over Real Salt Lake on Nov. 11, assisting Diego Rubio's opening goal. Started and played 89 minutes in a 0-0 conference championship first-leg draw at Portland on Nov. 25. Started and played 89 minutes in a 3-2 conference championship second-leg loss to Portland on Nov. 29.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Russell developed in the Dundee United FC Academy before making his professional debut for the top-flight Scottish Premiership club in May 2007 at age 17. He spent most of the following two seasons on loan at Scottish side Forfar Athletic, recording eight total goals, and marked his first career Dundee United start with a successful penalty kick in a 2009 Scottish FA Cup win over East Sterlingshire.
After being loaned to Raith Rovers in 2009-10, Russell enjoyed a breakout year at Dundee United with nine goals as the Tangerines finished fourth in the Scottish Premier League. He added 14 more goals in all competitions during the 2011-12 campaign to pace another fourth-place finish, also scoring in a UEFA Europa League qualifier. Russell’s final season at Dundee United saw him produce a team-best 20 goals in 38 competitive appearances, including five in the club’s run to the Scottish FA Cup semifinals.
Russell reached new heights in June 2013 when he joined Derby County aged 23. He marked his debut for the outfit with his first of nine goals in the 2013-14 English Championship as the Rams fell just short of promotion to the Premier League. The winger totaled 18 additional goals over the next two seasons to work his way into the Scotland Men’s National Team squad.
Russell remained a regular contributor for Derby in 2016-17 and 2017-18, scoring four goals in the latter season prior to arriving in Kansas City.
INTERNATIONAL (9 caps)
Russell has earned nine career caps for Scotland, including one appearance in UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying. He received his first call to the senior squad in May 2012 for a friendly against the United States, but did not feature in the match. Russell landed his debut in a November 2014 friendly against England and featured in two more friendlies the following year as Scotland defeated Northern Ireland and Qatar, respectively. In October 2015, he contributed to Scotland’s 6-0 victory over Gibraltar in Group D of UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying.
With Sporting KC: Russell made his return to the Scotland setup on June 2, 2018, starting and playing 90 minutes in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Mexico at the hallowed Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. On Sept. 7, 2018, he came off the bench for a 22-minute cameo in a 4-0 friendly defeat to world No. 2-ranked Belgium at Hampden Park in Glasgow. On Sept. 10, 2018, Russell started and played 70 minutes as Scotland defeated Albania 2-0 to make a winning start to their 2018-19 UEFA Nations League campaign. Started and played 67 minutes as Scotland fell 2-1 at Israel in the UEFA Nations League on Oct. 11. Played 17 minutes as a second-half substitute as Scotland earned a 4-0 road win over Albania in the UEFA Nations League.
Youth: As a youth international, Russell represented Scotland at the U-19 and U-21 levels. He netted twice in 10 matches for the U-19s between 2007-2010, then logged 11 appearances for the Scotland U-21s from 2010-2012, tallying one goal in 2013 UEFA U-21 European Championship Qualifying.