SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Fabian Johnson

Fabian Johnson

Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Fabian Johnson has played at left wing and left back before for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but he looks to have found a home at right back.

The 26-year old showed off his skills both in defense and attack on Sunday in the USMNT’s 2-1 victory against Turkey, including an outstanding combination play and goal. Johnson came forward from his full back position and dished off to Michael Bradley in the center of the field.

Bradley played a wonderful chip over the Turkey back line for Johnson to run on, and the German-American skillfully took his chance and fired home a shot on the half-volley to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Johnson’s performance earned him SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors.

Johnson did more than just score the opening goal of the match. He also turned in a strong showing defensively, keeping Turkey from posing a threat from their left flank.

Who did you think deserved Man of the Match honors? Cast your vote here:

  • Fabian Johnson
  • Michael Bradley
  • Jozy Altidore
  • Jermaine Jones
  • John Brooks
  • Clint Dempsey
  • Brad Guzan
  • Geoff Cameron

—–

Who did you vote for? What did you think of Johnson’s performance?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Fabian Johnson

  1. JayAre says:

    +100

  2. The Other Jeff says:

    Who, a few weeks ago, would have thought that by now we’d be settled and confident at right back and still looking for the answer on the left?

    • Increase says:

      It’s just wherever Fabian isn’t. =(

      • Bac says:

        Yea right!?!? I thought Chandler defended well.. for 85 minutes – he never looked overmatched… but looked confused finding his positioning between Besler & Davis.. which could be him or the responsibilities/communication in this diamond..

        • The Other Jeff says:

          Something just didn’t smell right over there. Tactical breakdowns. Turkey shelled us from the area of the field patrolled by Besler, Chandler, Davis in that first half.

        • Hogatroge says:

          Honestly, I thought Chandler & Besler were communicating well for the 1st half… it’s just that Brooks and Chandler didn’t get on the same page in the 2nd. Maybe it’s the curse of the substitute defender (which you really never see in official competition where you don’t have 6 subs), but the same thing seemed to happen in past matches.

          Yes, Chandler did have a big flub that directly led to Turkey’s goal. That said, the US were sitting pretty then. It doesn’t make it any less of a mental lapse, but I’d like to think/hope that Chandler doesn’t make that same mistake in the WC.

          Overall, I’m gonna have to disagree with you and say that Chandler made the case tonight about why he needs to be starting over Beasley.

          • Bac says:

            I don’t think were in disagreement too much. My point was the fullbacks looked totally out of sync with where they were supposed to be, and I think its this diamond. I just watched the 1st half again, and I think Besler looked out of sorts too.
            I think theyre struggling with their positioning which affects em all, but I thought he defended well minus the giveaway.
            Right guys, not a unit yet..

            • Jesse says:

              Davis left chandler without much help most of the night. Bedoya would help him a lot more defensively, granted he doesn’t hit a cross anywhere as though either.

              • Bac says:

                Yep, and when he tracked back it looked like he didn’t know where to go or who to pick up.
                Diamonds are not Forever…

              • KingGoogleyEye says:

                Perhaps a ruby or sapphire midfield?

                Calling Tom Shane….

          • Tyrone says:

            Basically, Chandler’s performance was solid other than the mistake toward the end of the match, and to be honest, that’s usually the same way i would describe Gonzales’ performances for the NT, and look where he is now- on the bench.

            Not saying that Beasley is better than Chandler on the left (I would be fine with either one manning the left back position), but I don’t think we can use today’s performance to say that Chandler is necessarily a better choice than Beasley.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Chandler was atrocious.

        • Big Red says:

          The diamond was stopped after 20 minutes. Reinstalled after halftime for about 10 minutes midway through like 60-70 minutes and then stopped again.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Increase: that’s a very good way of putting it.

        I do think Chandler performed fairly well though.

        • Jesse says:

          +1. Can we have 3 Fabians one at left back, one at right back and one at left mid?

  3. Maykol says:

    Honestly dont think you could say anyone played bad today. I Guess Besler was shaky, zusi unimpressive for the most part, Green unspectacular, but no one really played bad from what i saw. Definitely agree about Fabian Johnson MOTM

    • Alex says:

      Besler was shaky? I didn’t see that.

      • Bac says:

        Positioning.
        We’ll know quickly if it’s the diamond, because there was a lot of confusion and gaps. More in the first half.
        Will be interesting to see if this gets ignored for other storylines.

        • Alex says:

          The diamond was extremely problematic. Because Davis and Zusi had to pinch in to help Jones who was up against two attacking midfielders, the fullbacks repeatedly got isolated and beaten. Turkey intentionally created overloads again and again on our fullbacks, and that’s where so many of the defensive issues stemmed from. When the fullback got beaten, a center back had to cover, stretching the defense thin, and Jones would drop back to cover, leaving a lot of space in front of the defense. It was a disaster. Better teams would have punished us. I really hope we don’t see this against Portugal in particular.

          I don’t see what the problem would be with remaining in a double pivot in midfield, with Bradley and Jones shielding the defense, but allowing Bradley to move forward on offense while Jones stays home. It’s just about the defensive shape – Bradley needed to drop back today and he didn’t. Not a knock on him – it’s about the formation.

          • Bac says:

            Diamonds have a “Return within 30 day” policy? Still got the receipt.. send it back…

          • Collin says:

            You realize with the diamond the outside middies to are suppose to pinch inside, opening up the channels for the backs. The problem I have seen with our diamond so far has been when jones has stepped wide, the backside mid is not filling in, instead Besler is stepping forward opening up the back. On another note Chandler played too narrow tucking in too tight on Besler allowing the switch all game.

            • Alex says:

              I understand that perfectly well. It’s the nature of the formation. And it left us dangerously open in defense. It wasn’t down to mistakes, it was down to turkey’s numerical advantages in key areas of the pitch. Of course, it goes both ways. We enjoyed numerical advantages elsewhere that helped our attack shine. It’s a trade off, and one Juergen should make sure he understands fully before trotting out a diamond against Portugal.

              • Collin says:

                I just read where Jurgen said they ended up switching to a flat four defensively, while maintaining the diamond offensively. Which would be optimistic, I like our backs getting forward, but leaving them isolated on the defense is going to cause trouble. Why not use the outside kids to funnel into bradley/jones. Also Jones/Bradley are strong in the pivot defensively, its typically going forward where they run into problems with jones crowding space.

              • bphs says:

                Well said.

          • Mike says:

            I thought we were running the diamond to prepare for Ghana. I highly doubt we run it against Portugal or Germany.

          • Jesse says:

            All true, yet I was surprised how well our fullbacks handled being isolated all night. Wasn’t fullback suppose to the biggest weakness of this team? Funny how things change.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              Almost as if the team has a coach who successfully leads them in practices to become identify and fix weaknesses….

              • Jesse says:

                Okay. one position group getting better doesn’t mean the whole team is ready.

                We’ve taken steps backwards at outside midfield.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Agree on Green and Johnson.

    • Fliffy says:

      Chandler played poorly today. Very much so. I had high hopes for him as in upgrade on that left side, but it looks like Beasley remains our best bet.

      • Smith says:

        I thought Chandler did alright. His problems were mostly down to a formation that left him continually exposed. At least he was not physically over matched which is what I fear Beasley would be. Our “wide” midfielders playing at or in the center circle made life difficult for our fullbacks and our halfbacks for that matter since their wide players marauding down the flanks in the first half were left open to make easy passes into space inside our 18.

      • petro4ever says:

        Honestly, I’ve always preferred Beasley at LB, but I think at this point, Klinsmann just needs to pick one and stick with him, since switching back and forth will just make the problems we saw today worse.

        Up until the sequence that led to the penalty, I would say that Chandler was having a solid game. Whenever he was forced to make a play on the ball or a stop, he made it, and he had great recovery speed when beaten (sound familiar?). The problem was that for much of the first half and parts of the second, he was constantly out of position — either too far upfield or too far inside, leaving Turkey space to go up the right side until it was more-or-less at the edge of the box. It’s not clear to me whether this was the result of a lack of discipline on Chandler’s part (when he played for us before, his primary weakness was that sometimes he’d get too far upfield), poor communication among members of the back-line (since this line-up has never played together), or the diamond formation (which, as others have pointed out, leaves lots of space between Jones and Bradley, and renders Jones vulnerable to 1-on-2 situations where he needs help). Likely, it was a combination of all 3.

        The inherent weaknesses of the diamond formation aren’t really fixable, but the first too problems (positional discipline and communication) are. The trouble is they can only be fixed with lots of reps in practice and game situations, and we only have 1 more official game and a scrimmage left. So Klinsmann probably needs to just decide that he’s all-in on the Chandler-Besler-Cameron-Johnson backline and give them the full 90 against Nigeria and most of the Belgium scrimmage (even if one or both go poorly) to have them work through positioning issues. Going back to Beasley — particularly if Chandler is ultimately his preferred option — just deprives Chandler and the rest of the line of reps together and makes it more likely we see more disjointed play back there in Brazil.

      • Paul says:

        I don’t think so. Chandler is stronger than Beasley, from what I’ve seen. Beasley is okay most of the time against confederation opponents. Chandler is still fitting in with his new teammates, but seems to have higher upside potential and just maybe can play a solid game against top sides.

        • Fliffy says:

          Higher upside potential yes, but he’s playing like crap. He came in with a lot of questions about his dedication. How long are we supposed to wait for this mythical “new Tmy” that Klinsmann describes to show up. I’m ready to move ahead with Beasley. And I’ve always found Beasley to be a liability against top competition. Still, he’s way ahead of Chandler at this point.

          • Fliffy says:

            *new Timmy*

          • Jesse says:

            I didn’t see the game that way at all. Timmy led the team in tackles. He was constantly shutting down strong attacking play with little to no support. When brooks came in it got messy. God help us if brooks is called into action in Brazil. Chandler is gifted and physically able to matchup against talented teams in ways Beasley can’t.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              In defense of Brooks: he came into the most difficult position to sub—a position that requires the most communication and feel for the game. Anyone subbing in at CB will look worse than if they had started the match at CB.

              Whereas in other positions subs enjoy and offer many advantages—different perspective, new ideas, different style—all of those are liabilities or unnecessary for centerbacks.

              Brooks did improve throughout the half and eventually looked quite capable.

  4. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    Jozy Altidore was my MOTM.

    • Vic says:

      Just got back from the game got the crowd chanting: He cant shoot, he cant score, he’s jogging Jozy Altidore.

      • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

        He was hustling his @ss off in the 90th minute, was a constant pest to the back line, and was singled out by Turkey’s manager as being one of our best players today. If our own crowd was really chanting that, that’s just shameful.

        • Francois says:

          Agree a 100%. We should be supporting our players at matches, not cheering against him. People like you, Vic, make me sick.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          but really, whose opinion are you going to believe: internet commenter Vic, or an actual professional international manager?

      • Increase says:

        It sounds like you personally got the crowd doing that. If so, just don’t go to the games. He did tons for us last summer and had a good game tonight and got a goal taken away. If you can’t appreciate or respect that then don’t go.

      • Matt in Bk says:

        Vic troll, not true. Didn’t hear chants like that. Jozy worked hard, he’s playing physical and winnig balls.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        20 internet dollars says you were the only one chanting, and everyone else in range was just awkwardly trying to ignore you.

  5. TheFrenchOne says:

    Was troubled by Bradley’s game again. Not as bad as against Azerbeijan, but nowhere near what we saw against Mexico in April. Is it possible that the mexico game was the outlier, and the last 2 games are the more accurate representation of his ability as an attacking mid? As much as I like to see play with a strike partner, I think we need MB in his strongest position, and that playing the 8.

    • TheFrenchOne says:

      I should add, his pass to Johnson was world class. so i’m not saying he played terrible, just that maybe attacking mid is the not best spot for him

    • Alex says:

      I think if you get bogged down in 6, 8, 10 discussions, you miss the complexities of playing midfield. I agree that I think we’d look better with Bradley a bit further back, but not because he’s more of an 8 than a 10 or a 6 – it gives more balance to our whole team. Jurgen said after the game that he wanted to see a switch to a flat 4 midfield on defense and a diamond on offense – meaning Bradley will still take the ball forward, but he’ll have much more defensive responsibility than he did tonight.

      • Bac says:

        Where did you see that Alex?

      • Paul says:

        Bradley’s strength is when he can move box to box. And he will move back if JJ is in trouble and not getting help from outside mids, though maybe not in a friendly, where who-knows-what JK instructed them all to do.

        A lot of the numbers discussion is a little silly. The player responsibilities in each phase are the important thing. What’s the difference between this 4-4-2 with a diamond and a 4-3-2-1? In a real game, if the outside mids are stiffing JJ, Bradley drops with transition to defense. Dempsey drops to fill that gap at AM. There it is. And then in transition to attack, we’ll see player movement again.

        • Bac says:

          There looked like one glaring problem, the defense didn’t look like they knew what they were doing

  6. The Garrincha says:

    The team got a good practice in with the kind of officiating they generally receive at the WC.
    In other news.
    Chandler was a tale of two halves.
    Looked like a world beater first 45″,
    thought maybe he should have come off after he took that ankle knock?.
    His second half mistake which led directly to the PK, was not good.
    For him not to play the ball back to the keeper quickly or launch it out of bounds
    instead getting pick pocketed was poor.
    Green, more than anything he needs time which he does not have to gel.
    the style he is accustomed to is not what the team runs.
    He is a little out of his comfort zone
    where playing time and familiarity is needed.
    however as bad as it appeared for Green
    I still think he’s a jack in the box and will have an impact somehow?.
    it was tough going when he arrived into the game, already doing the catenaccio thing, makes it hard building forward.
    He did win an offensive free kick and a corner, would have loved to see him do more with that dangerous cross he received.
    Not sure what to think about Davis, other than he seems best suited as a sub.
    Bradley plays a step/move ahead, Green could work well with him together as FJ has.
    In closing what a mockery the officiating was,
    a shame it took an ice breaking goal away from Altidore.
    Let’s go Bomb Pops!.

  7. DB says:

    Fabian Johnson does not get enough mention when the topic of best/most important U.S. players is brought up.

  8. Jigones says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. Johnson played great. Posting for the first time because Chandler was a disaster at left back. I watched the game twice. I’m not sure how anyone can say he had a good game. In the first half, he left the flank wide open and let balls be crossed all half. The guys lined it up like it was a freekick and this guys provided no pressure. I don’t think it was tactical….Johnson did not let guys get in like that. In the second half, guys were getting in from the backside with absolutely no issue. Again, Yedlin’s side was stable outside the first 3-4 minutes he got in. Chandler could not stop anyone today. Most if not all of the attack came from him.

    Secondly. They were hitting balls to their forwards and dropping off to unmarked center midfielders, who had all day. They need to clean that up ASAP. Either JJ or the other center back (the one not going up for the ball) needs to be cleaning up those balls. Anyone that thinks that was anything but a horrific defensive performance, needs to rewatch that game.

    Lastly, Bradley and Jones need to stop giving the ball away. Yeah yeah, Bradley had a nice pass for the the goal and Jones cut off some passes, but Portugal and Germany will make us pay for those mistakes dearly. This is a game where the little things matter.

    • Jesse says:

      For the first 45 I couldn’t disagree more. Thought chandler was one of the best players on the field. Justified playing him over Beasley. Chandler stopped a lot of people.

      The problems you saw defensively were klinnsman fault. They had a ton of space in front of the back line. Professionals will make you pay if you give them that much space.

      Brooks was a much bigger issue than you are crediting him for in the second half.

      • Jigones says:

        I just keep seeing Turkey switch the ball, their winger trap it, look up, drink a cup of tea and pick out his target. When you leave the backside guy open and their is a switch, you have to slide over and put pressure on the trap or at last harrass your guy before he has time to decide to take it down the flank. I’m not sure how its JK’s fault that Chandler does not step up and provide pressure. I’m fairly confident that the coach did not say, let them switch the ball, and don’t pressure when the ball gets there. The slide over is automatic in all systems that I played (maybe there is a system out there that allows the other team to cross the ball?). I would be livid if any players that I coached let that many crosses any. Just my humble opinion, but if Chandler starts, we are doomed.

        Brooks? I did not give Brooks any credit…..

  9. James Duffy says:

    Our defense on the left in the 1st half was exposed due to our own tactics
    Our left midfield (Davis) was no existent and di not work hard at defending the ball
    we do not play a left wing player to put pressure on the Turkish right back
    In fact the Turkish right was available to take the ball the entire first half

    Solution: play an aggressive left winger who will work hard when he does not have the ball
    He will be supported by an equally aggressive left sided midfielder who will work the transition between left back & left winger

    I could not believe the space we conceded – was this a Klinsman tactic? – in the 1st half
    We were lucky not to have conceded 2 goals; Turkey had 4 shots during that time frame

    Jim

    I would consider p ; iv esOLUTION: PLAY A LEFT WOINGER GRbrigleft

  10. Steven says:

    Chandler showed well at times but he is a right back. I believe the back four will and should be Johnson – RB, Cameron and Brooks – CB, and Bessler – LB. Play Bradley as the holding mid with Demspey as the AM underneath Johansen and Altidore. Davis(not a fan but understand the service and set pieces) at left mid and j.jones as a more defensive central rm, and allow johnson to get forward. Jones can also take on the marking role if need be.

  11. Steven says:

    More of a 4-3-1-2 look