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Will Aron Johannsson start in the United States’ World Cup opener in Brazil?

Jan 22, 2014, 7:44 PM EDT


At first glance, you wonder if someone suggesting that Aron Johannsson is the top United States forward might also be someone enjoying some of those so-called “space cakes” sold in the Amsterdam coffee shops nearby Johannsson’s current home.

But it’s really not that far-fetched a notion once you grind the mental gears on this one just a bit. Especially since this particular piece is penned by respected colleague John Godfrey.

Johannsson, a man in a second shelf European league (the Dutch Eredivisie) has barely played in World Cup qualifiers, much less shown that he can handle the seasoned defenders of Portugal, Ghana and (egad!) Germany. How can it be that we are even talking about him being ahead of Jozy Altidore, currently earning his living in the world top league, or Clint Dempsey, about to suit up in his third World Cup?

Heck, even ol’ Eddie Johnson has a case for being ahead of the Johnny-come-lately Icelandic-American.

But can Godfrey be correct that “Johannsson is the most clinical striker in the U.S. player pool, and by a wide margin”?

He may indeed be the most “clinical,” but can he keep his wits about him in world soccer’s densest den of pressure? And has he learned all the little tactical tricks that life in the world’s top league taught Dempsey and is now teaching Altidore?

In the end, we’d have to believe that Jurgen Klinsmann won’t trust Johannsson to a starting spot right away as Godfrey suggests – not unless someone gets hurt or things go askance right away against Ghana, leaving the U.S. manager to “reach” for potential solutions.

But it does seem like a topic worth discussing. Altidore can hardly be confident; and when we talk about what striker’s need most, “confidence” is always going to arrive early and often in that conversation.

Dempsey will probably play in behind a striker, so it’s possible both are in the starting lineup as the World Cup opens against Ghana. But either way, can any of us be real sure where Dempsey is at this point, mentally and physically?

  1. danielofthedale - Jan 22, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    Jozy and Aron have not played much together but when they have I have really liked the way they worked. Aron seemed to make really good run off Jozy when Jozy has his back to goal. I would love to see them play more in tandem in he friendlies leading to brazil.

    • Sgc - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Yeah, between the two, Jozy is more or less a 9 and Aron an 11. I do suspect they will see time together, although maybe not 90 minutes, because I think we will default to a 4-5-1.

      • bear06 - Jan 25, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        JK will likely stick with the 4-2-3-1 and switch to the 4-4-2 in the second half if needed.

      • Sgc - Jan 26, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m thinking. Based on the scoreline, I think we will tend to switch between minutes 60 and 75 to get that second forward in there. We’ve had some good luck with that tactical switch lately.

  2. talgrath - Jan 22, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    I don’t think Johansson is the starter, not quite yet at least, but I’m fairly certain he’s the first sub. If he continues to show progress and promise the way he has so far, I think Johansson will be the starter for the next World Cup cycle.

    • kaicyr - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Disagree. Jozy’s confidence will be shot all to hell come WC time

  3. hildezero - Jan 22, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    I don’t know what “space cakes” are, but I think I know what it is. They sound pretty good at right about now… @_@ Hook it up Aron! Send some over here (with recipe)!

  4. nmberg - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:34 AM

    Aron is going to start at the WC. Trust me. This dude is a sharp shooter. Descended from fearsome Viking warriors, he is cold and cruel as ice. I heard that, as a child, he practiced dribbling a soccer ball around polar bears. Jozy will need to up his game if he wants to stay in the starting lineup.

    • bear06 - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:13 AM

      That was awesome man haha!

    • midtec2005 - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      “I heard that, as a child, he practiced dribbling a soccer ball around polar bears.”

      On an active volcano no less!

  5. jimmycrackcorn99 - Jan 23, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    I think JK has to start whoever is in best form by the summer. It may end up being Johannsson who has an amazing striker’s instinct.

    But, what do you do, change to a 4-4-2 or keep the lone striker up front?

    • bear06 - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      JK should and probably will stick with the 4-2-3-1 and will switch to the 4-4-2 in the second half if needed.

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