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Look who could jump on Klinsmann Express
by Paul Kennedy, July 29th, 2013 7:49PM

TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014


[USA MEN] The Klinsmann Express is picking up speed, and everyone seems to want to jump on board. At least two European-based players, John Anthony Brooks of Hertha Berlin and Aron Johannsson of AZ, appear to be finally ready to throw their international fortunes in with the U.S. national team and could debut as soon as in two weeks. That's what 11 straight wins, a Gold Cup title and almost certain qualification for the 2014 World Cup will do for you.

The German magazine kicker reported last week the 20-year-old Brooks would be called up for the USA's next game against Bosnia-Herzegovina in an international friendly Aug. 14 in Sarajevo.

Johannsson declared Monday on his Facebook page that he intends to make himself eligible for the USA. He has already played for Iceland in competitive matches at the youth level so he will need to get a one-time switch to represent the USA approved by FIFA before he can play in a U.S. match.

Such switches were done by current national team players Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones.

Born to a German mother and American father, Brooks has grown to 6-foot-4 and become a hot property in Germany, a starter at center back for runaway German second division champion Hertha Berlin.

He could have played for the USA at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey and was on the fringe of Germany's team for the UEFA Under-21 Championship in Israel, but he chose to rest up for his first Bundesliga season.

Johannsson, who was born in Alabama to Icelandic parents who moved back home when he was 3, scored 14 goals in 18 games for Danish club AGF in the fall half of the 2012-13 season and earned a transfer to AZ, where played alongside Jozy Altidore. Johannsson had three goals in five games for AZ last spring and should take over up front for Altidore, who has moved to Sunderland.

He earned an Iceland callup for World Cup 2014 qualifying in October 2012 but a groin injury prevented him for playing -- which would have tied him to Iceland. U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said earlier this year he was following Johannsson's progress. AZ's director of soccer is former U.S. international Earnie Stewart, whom Klinsmann met with during U.S. Soccer's centennial celebrations in Washington.

Both Brooks and Johannsson would add to the growing competition for spots on a potential U.S. World Cup 2014 roster at two key positions.

-- Center back: Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez emerged as starters during the Hexagonal, but Clarence Goodson played in the final of the Gold Cup ahead of Gonzalez. Klinsmann singled out another center back, Michael Orozco Fiscal, after Sunday's Gold Cup final as a player good enough to start. Geoff Cameron began the Hexagonal as Gonzalez's partner but has since started at right back and in midfield.

-- Striker: Altidore scored in four straight matches in June to leave no doubt who is the top U.S. striker. Herculez Gomez had started up front in the fall of 2012 when Altidore was in the Klinsmann dog house but persistent knee problems ruined Gomez's summer with the national team. That gave Chris Wondolowski a chance to get hot with six goals in three straight games, but he soon found himself on the bench when Eddie Johnson joined the USA for the knockout stage. An excellent Gold Cup established Johnson as 1A in the striker depth chart to Altidore's 1.

More generally, Brooks and Johannsson add to the list of European-based players Klinsmann could call up for the Bosnia game -- on a midweek friendly fixture date with little time for the team to prepare.

Such is the depth on the U.S. team that Klinsmann could bring in a team of almost entirely European-based players, plus the three MLS players from the June qualifiers not used in July (Brad Evans, Brad Davis and Graham Zusi), and not bring in one player from the Gold Cup.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: July 29, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.
    Here's a great argument to have over a few beers -- Would Giuseppe Rossi still choose Italy if he was making his decision today?????
  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: July 30, 2013 at 7:53 a.m.
    Il traditore! My problem is not the choice, my problem is the celebration at the Confederations Cup. Karma is a lady dog.
  1. Kerry Solomon
    commented on: July 30, 2013 at 9:06 a.m.
    James...I'll drink to that. My guess is, he still would choose Italy based on tradition and heritage.
  1. Shane Watkins
    commented on: July 30, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.
    James, No doubt Rossi would still choose Italy. What would you do if you had the choice? On the US you would be competing to get into the 2nd round of the world cup. With Italy you're always competing for the world cup final!
  1. Terence Chu
    commented on: July 30, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.
    Can we get Zelalem also?
  1. Joy Hottington
    commented on: July 30, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.
    The answer to the Rossi/beers argument is that it would be over after one shot. He's still going with Italy. That's my take on it. He was always going to Italy. Subotic might have been another story... But we don't really know. I do know that it gets more attractive for dual-citizens as long as they have a legit shot at playing time. I'm looking at you, Teal.

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