Juergen Klinsmann raised a whole lot of eyebrows on August 25th when he announced 23 year old Fabian Johnson would be included in the 23 man squad to play Costa Rica. Who is Fabian Johnson?
He’s a holding midfielder/ central defender for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and his US national switch is possible because of his parentage; father is American while his mother is German. Johnson represented Germany in the U21 Euro team that won their maiden title in 2009. His team mates included Manuel Neuer, Mesut Oezil, and Sami Khedira, stars in their present national side. Johnson broke into the German youth ranks playing for TSV 1860 Munchen. His national rise plateaued when he joined Volkswagen backed VfL Wolfsburg in 2009.
The Mannschaft meanwhile gained strength in the centre back pairing of Mats Hummels and Benedikt Howedes while the midfield role has up and coming Sven Bender and İlkay Gündoğan challenging Sami Khedira. The chances of Johnson making the national team are very limited. He follows in the footsteps of Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler, two other German born Americans embracing pragmatism as a virtue.
Johnson will not play today in the Costa Rica friendly as his paperwork to transition to the US squad is incomplete. This begs the question why did Klinsmann then include him in the squad? Bob Bradley did not call on Jones till FIFA approved his switch months later and his inclusion was further delayed by an ankle injury as time wound down for last year’s World Cup. He was finally not included because of match fitness concerns.
Nice buzz, impractical move, Juergen. There are others who can benefit from more exposure.