[USA MEN] FIFA approved 22-year-old striker Aron Johannsson's petition to switch national teams, making him eligible to play for the U.S. national team, beginning with Wednesday's game against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium in Sarajevo.
Johannsson formerly represented Iceland
competitively at the U-21 level, requiring FIFA approval for the switch. Having been born in Alabama to Icelandic parents, Johannsson met the primary requirement for switching: he was eligible to play
the USA when he first played for Iceland. (FIFA's dual nationality rules all but rule out players switching federations based on gaining citizenship via marriage.)
"I'm super happy," said
Johannsson. "When I came here, I didn't expect that I was going to be eligible to play. The coach told me right after training that the approval came through. I'm very excited."
Johannsson burst on the season last season at Danish club AGF, for which he scored 14 goals in 18 games. He moved in January to Dutch club AZ, where he has replaced Jozy Altidore as its No. 1 striker.
"We are obviously very thrilled for Aron," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement. "It's
an exciting time for him. He's done a great job in these couple days getting to know the guys. Hopefully, if the game goes well tomorrow night, there will be a chance for him to make his debut with
the U.S. national team."
When Johannsson announced his
decision to switch, the Icelandic federation protested vehemently, urging him to reconsider his decision. It noted he had played 10 international matches for Iceland's U-21s in 2011 and 2012 -- eight
of them in UEFA competitions -- and the only thing that kept him from playing for the national team was injuries -- just the USA's good fortune.
It added that Johannsson had "no link to
soccer in the USA at all" and that he was being tempted by money, "that his income potential, as a USA player, is much greater, both in the form of grants and sponsorship, than if he were an Iceland
The Icelandic federation lamented, "It is simply so that an Iceland national team member must play for land and country and for that they get honor and glory."