[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.
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.
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
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.