With national team decision behind him, Johannsson focused on solidifying USMNT spot

Aron Johannsson

Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — When Aron Johannsson stepped off the plane here on Tuesday with the U.S. Men’s National Team, he was already well aware that there would likely be an icy reception from Costa Rican fans when the Americans arrived ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier.

Johannsson learned quickly just how much animosity there is after the U.S. team’s snow-covered World Cup qualifying win last March. Two eggs were thrown at the team bus, coming close to the young striker, who took it in stride as part of the experience of being a U.S. player in hostile territory.

“It was a little bit more than I expected, but I guess they’re excited for the game, and so are we,” Johannsson said of the team’s reception upon arrival here Tuesday night.

“We’re focused on the game. We’re focused on the three points, and going to a World Cup.”

While it remains unclear just what role Johannsson will play in the upcoming qualifiers, he has made a good early impression on the team since making his debut against Bosnia & Herzegovina last month. The AZ striker was impressive in a brief cameo that offered a good glimpse of the qualities he can bring to the U.S. forward pool.

“He had limited action, but you can see his confidence in the box,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said of Johannsson. “Trying to make people miss. Taking that extra touch, trying to get a shot off.

“His link-up play was really good too. I think there were a few times in the Bosnia game where he pulled off and came a little bit deeper, got the ball and connected the play,” Howard said. “Again, a ton of confidence. I don’t know where these guys get it from because I didn’t have that when I was a kid.

“It’s exciting to have them be a part of the group now,” Howard said. “I know we’re kind of at a late stage here, but it’s awesome to have new faces, and fresh faces, that are eager and hungry.”

Johannsson comes into U.S. camp on a roll for AZ, having scored goals in five straight games in all competitions to start the season.

“I’m focused on doing good, and focused on filling the shoes Jozy (Altidore) left,” Johannsson said. “Those are big shoes to fill so I’ve got to keep scoring goals and getting three points for my team.”

Johannsson’s new team, the U.S. team, has welcomed him with open arms, and he responded to that with an impressive debut vs. Bosnia and & Herzegovina.

“They’ve been really welcoming but it’s soccer, and soccer is a universal language,” Johannsson said. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve been with the guys a year or three days, I can play soccer with them. Now it’s just focusing on getting to know them even better.

“I’m not surprised (by the warm reception) because Jozy told me that the guys were amazing and it was a nice group of guys,” Johannsson said. “They’ve been real welcoming and even after two days in Bosnia I felt like I was part of the group.”

The 22-year-old striker admitted feeling a weight off his shoulders after finally making a decision on which national team to play for.

“I was thinking about it for almost a year or more so it’s a big relief and I couldn’t be more happy about my decision,” Johannsson said. “Now I’m just focused on training well and preparing for the game.”

As for the harsh response from the Icelandic soccer federation after his decision to play for the United States instead of the country where he was raised, and represented on the youth level?

“It’s the first time when someone Icelandic doesn’t play for the Icelandic team so I guess they didn’t know how to react, and some people were mad, but most of the people there support my decision and are rooting for me to go to the World Cup next year.”

Johannsson and the U.S. can take a major step toward securing a World Cup place with a win on Friday, and the U.S. team’s newest attacking option could wind up playing a key role in securing that berth.

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72 Responses to With national team decision behind him, Johannsson focused on solidifying USMNT spot

  1. bryan says:

    really looking forward to watching this kid grow. hoping he gets some solid minutes in the next two games.

  2. Eric Galaxy says:

    Dude looks NOTHING like Kevin Bacon. Can we kill that please?

  3. Judging Amy says:

    honestly though, who throws eggs?

  4. Bryson says:

    If I didn’t already know his age I would totally believe if someone told me he was 15.

  5. Beto says:

    Oh no! They threw an egg near him! Is he okay?!

    Your not in Iceland anymore buddy, welcome to CONCACAF!

  6. Flimflam says:

    This guy is trash compared to Wondowlowski.

  7. ATX_Colin says:

    “They’ve been really welcoming but it’s soccer, and soccer is a universal language,”

    I love that quote, speaks to his mindset and soccer sense.

  8. Ian says:

    Kevin Bacon and eggs! *rimshot*

  9. Link says:

    If EJ starts, I figure that after about 30-45 minutes of him looking scared and being stripped of the ball, Aron will get his chance. He looked far better than EJ in Bosnia, I have no reason to think he can’t do it again. At anyrate, the ball is in EJs court now. Swim or sink

  10. doug says:

    I have a feeling this guys is going to be contributing to the USMNT for a long time.

  11. Tensnake says:

    Agudelo, Arriola, Boyd, Johannsson, Altidore…ect. Our future for forwards/strikers is looking very bright,

  12. Pingunça says:

    Here’s to AJ running a clinic on the backline.

    link to geekologie.com

  13. Long Time Listener says:

    BTW, in some photos he is a dead ringer for young kevin bacon. Eric Galaxy must’ve been born long after Footloose.

    and the “scores” bit of the tune has to have a lot of gusto. I picture a tiny Andrew WK singing it in my head.

    • Long Time Listener says:

      weird, pretty certain i hit reply in line… oh well

    • Paul says:

      On a side note, when did making all those teen movies of the 80′s evolve to making vampire movies? although “Superbad” a few years ago was outstanding

  14. Gary Page says:

    My guess is he won’t play a lot against CR, maybe some against Mexico, but probably a cameo. If the US gets 4 points in the next two games I’m guessing he and Brooks will get a start or two in the last two against Panama and Jamaica..

  15. Bruce Arena says:

    There is so much brilliance oozing from this comments section. Well done, gentlemen.

  16. Philly Union Rule says:

    Mason IS KING!

    First, I just really like eggs.

    You can hard boil ‘em, soft boil em, poach ‘em. Souffle em, bake em. Orange Julius em. Gin Fizz em. There’s pickled eggs, omlettes. Scrambled eggs. Fry em sunny side up, over easy over medium over hard. Tortilla. Coddled egg. Basted egg. Shirred egg. Steamed egg. Eggs on toast. Frog in the hole. Croque Madame. Deviled eggs. Egg foo youn. Egg drop soup. Eggs Benedict. Huevos rancheros. Loco moco. Migas. Egg sushi. Tea egg. Egg dumplings.

    Then there’s the sauces… There’s hollandaise, mayonnaise, custard… and baking

    That… That’s about all you can do with eggs.

    Secondly, it’s not a joke. Eggs are a damn good source of protein, vitamins and calories, and have been for almost 9000 years. I’m not poverty stricken and I wouldn’t waste more than two either. Were I, I wouldn’t even throw one.

  17. MLSatlanta says:

    Never really thought about it until now but Johannson is the Icelandic Geoseppi Rossi haha. I’m sure he’s getting it bad in Iceland just like Rossi is here in the states.