Toronto FC midfielder Will Johnson to explore MLS free agency in offseason

Video via MLS: Canadian bad blood (2:25)

MLSsoccer.com's Jillian Sakovits chats with Montreal Impact's Patrice Bernier and visits a Canadiens-Maple Leafs game. (2:25)

Toronto FC midfielder Will Johnson is ready to explore free agency at the end of the 2016 MLS season, after spending much of his first season with the club as a substitute and reserve player.

Johnson, 29, moved to Toronto this year after spending three seasons with the Portland Timbers and winning the 2015 MLS Cup with the club.

However, the Canadian international found himself out of Caleb Porter's rotation by the end of his time with the Timbers and moved to Toronto to find more playing time and opportunity with the Reds.

But Johnson's season with Toronto was marred by a mid-summer injury during the team's win against Montreal in the Canadian Cup finals, resulting in him only making 23 appearances for the team over the course of the season.

Johnson admits he's happy in Toronto, but under the terms of the new MLS collective bargaining agreement, he's free to explore options with other teams once the season is over and the two-time MLS Cup winner says it makes sense to see what's out there.

"Having been through this last year it doesn't faze me," Johnson told the Toronto Sun ahead of his team's Eastern Conference final first leg against Montreal. "In 20 days I could be playing for a new team. But, today, I'm playing for Toronto. I love it here. My teammates are awesome. We've got two amazing games to look forward to, and hopefully one more.

"[This season] has been a big step forward from last year. Right now is a huge negative for me not playing. It's not why I came here. Obviously I came here to play and win. But, I've done a lot of good things here.

"I've helped push the team forward in the ways I can. When the national team guys have been gone, I've been around, pushing training and games. To be missing out on this part of the season is extremely difficult for me.

"But overall it has still been a very positive year given I broke another leg in the middle of the season. To be able to be healthy again, fit and sharp, but not contributing in a more meaningful way -- for a good player like me -- is difficult."

Johnson likened the tie with Montreal to matches he experienced playing for Portland when the Timbers faced north-west rivals the Seattle Sounders and believes the Impact will pose a sizable obstacle in Toronto's quest to reach the MLS Cup finals.

"Montreal is a good team," Johnson said. "They have a good identity. They have good players who are veteran savvy. We look forward to going against them.

"It's similar to when we played Seattle when I was in Portland. People want to talk up the rivalry part in the playoffs, but I suppress it a little bit because winning an Eastern Conference title is far more important than beating a rival.

"It's going to be amazing, but we have to set ourselves up for it," Johnson said of the anticipated return leg in Toronto. "In 2013, we [Portland] went to Salt Lake and gave up four goals, so that second leg wasn't so exciting."

Toronto will face Montreal in the first leg of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at Saputo Stadium (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).