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USA welcomes European champ Fabian Johnson
by Mike Woitalla, August 26th, 2011 12:27AM

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TAGS:  germany, men's national team

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[USA SPOTLIGHT] Two years ago, Fabian Johnson lined up alongside Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil in a midfield that led Germany to a 4-0 win over England in the U-21 European Championship final. Now the Munich-born Johnson, whose father is American, has decided to wear the U.S. jersey, accepting an invite from Jurgen Klinsmann for friendlies against Costa Rica Sept. 2 and Belgium Sept. 6. He arrives after starting the Bundesliga season setting up three goals in three games for German first division club Hoffenheim.

The 23-year-old Johnson is known as a fast, technically sound player who can play on the backline or in midfield. At the U-21 European Championship, where Germany’s performance sparked talk of a golden generation, he played wide right in the midfield while starting in the final and in a 1-0 win over Italy in the semifinal.

Before the U-21 finals, Johnson had played in more than 60 Second Division games for 1860 Munich, the club he joined as at age 9. At 15, he served as ballboy for 1860’s games in the Munich Olympic Stadium.

“Goalkeeper Michael Hofmann once gave me a strong scolding,” Johnson recalled of his ball boy days and the time he didn’t get the ball back quite fast enough. Three years later he was Hofmann’s teammate, making his pro debut at 18.

“His strength is his versatility,” said Walter Schachner, Johnson’s 1860 coach at the time. “He can, from right back to left wing, play every position. He’s strong with both feet and thus unpredictable for every opponent.”

After the European Championship, Johnson moved up to the First Division when he signed for defending champion VfL Wolfsburg on what the German press reported was a $3.5 million transfer.

Johnson saw action in 16 games (scoring once) in two seasons for Wolfsburg, which this summer sold him to Hoffenheim for $1 million.

The 23-year-old got off to a fast start at Hoffenheim, which finished 11th last season. He scored in his debut, the overtime gamewinner in a 3-1 German Cup victory over Germania Windeck.

He drew the penalty kick that led to Hoffenheim’s goal in a 2-1 loss to Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga opener. He started again wide right in midfield as Hoffenheim beat defending champ Borussia Dortmund, 1-0, in the season’s second game.

And last weekend, he was rated by Kicker Magazine as Hoffenheim’s best field player in a win 2-0 win over Augsburg in which he delivered the pass that Ryan Babel finished for the first goal and drew a penalty kick that led to the second goal.

From Germany’s U-21 European Championship team, Johnson’s teammates Khedira, Ozil, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Jerome Boateng went on to play for Germany’s third-place team at the 2010 World Cup, after which Khedira and Ozil moved to Real Madrid from VfB Stuttgart and Werder Bremen, respectively.

Johnson had not made it to Germany’s full national team, which is why he can play for the nation he is a citizen of thanks to his father.



5 comments
  1. Alberto Mora
    commented on: August 26, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.
    In recent comments that I made after the past World Cup in South Africa, I said that our US National team needed a real Coach to take over for at least twelve (12) years and inmediately I received some negative comments from some of the folks that write their own feed back. Well this is the answer, I'm please to see the result: Jurgen Klinsmann is the beginning of my views, so for all of those negative comments writers just learn from us the experts in futbol before typing your silly ideas. Our new imported Coach will change the time wasted since we had Bora Mulitinovic, the gap has been closed...GO USA!!!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: August 26, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.
    Alberto, most of us are worthy of the Ragin' Ridge coined nickname of "Soccer Cognoscenti!" (from the Latin Thanks to SA's Ridge M.) for people who are wise and having expert knowledge, in this case of futbol-soccer-futebol, calccio, etc.) And those who do not qualify for this distinct honor are now looking in from behind their veil full of ignorance! Yes, it is now GO USA!!!

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: August 27, 2011 at 10:01 a.m.
    Why is this the first call-up for Johnson? Did he just make himself available?

  1. Theodore Eison
    commented on: August 28, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
    1)Super Man's comments somewhat warranted 2) I like the emphasis on technical players playing one-touch football that seems to be Klinsmann M.O. 3) Bradley did a good job of bleeding in new talent in 2007 after the team had become stale under Arena -- Klinsmann is now doing the same. It's an evitable cycle 4) For reasons stated in #4, it would never be a good idea to have the same national tema coach for 12 yrs

  1. Ed Hawkins
    commented on: August 28, 2011 at 11:01 a.m.
    Let's have a look at him and see how he gels with the rest of the call ups - I hope for overnight success but have my fingers crossed that we find a style that makes sense for our talent Eddie Hawkins -


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