Loading... Please wait...

News

Don’t forget about Fabian Johnson

Posted

If you forgotten about Fabian Johnson, the other big American in the Bundesliga, I forgive you. In the age of Christian Pulisic, it’s easy to forget about the likes of Johnson, Timmy Chandler, John Anthony Brooks, Bobby Wood, and other Americans toiling in the Bundesliga.

But it’s time to remember Johnson, who turns 30 in December and will be at his career peak when the World Cup rolls around next summer. These next 12 months will be Johnson’s last hurrah with the US national team, as he has indicated that he’ll likely retire from international football after the World Cup.

During the past year, Johnson’s name has slipped under the national team radar, due to the coaching transition from Jürgen Klinsmann to Bruce Arena and Johnson’s omission from the Gold Cup roster, but most importantly, Johnson’s muscle tear injury in March during an Europa League match against Schalke 04. The injury caused Johnson to miss the huge World Cup qualifier win against Honduras and draw against Panama in March. Missing these two matches meant that Johnson didn’t get the opportunity to meld into Arena’s formula for his best US XI. The injury also forced Johnson to miss eight matches during the second half (the Rückrunde) of the 2016-17 Bundesliga season for Borussia Mönchengladbach. He only appeared in the final two Bundesliga match days.

It’s a pity, because prior to his injury, Johnson was playing his best football of the season, contributing key passes, goals, and assists as the fulcrum of Gladbach’s attack. Naturally, after the injury and recovery, Johnson simply looked like a player shaking off the rust after a long layoff—hence his sporadic contributions to the US team since the early spring. However, Johnson also had a difficult winter health-wise, missing time from December through January with achilles issues. So it’s hard to imagine that Johnson ever achieved full health last season.

At least Johnson’s Gold Cup omission was by choice, since Johnson and Arena apparently have a “deal” worked out in which Johnson will only play in “big matches” for the US. Obviously, the Gold Cup didn’t make the “big matches” cut for him—nor did it for many other US stalwarts. It makes sense: Johnson probably needed the additional recovery time, especially with a new domestic season starting this fall, and the World Cup looming next summer. Arena needs to keep his most “senior” squad members fresh as apple pie for Russia and he needs Johnson as one of his starting wingers.

As Johnson’s career peaks, he seemingly has found his most effective role: attacking (left) winger. Indeed, the older he gets, the further up the pitch Johnson roams, it seems. Although he’s always been very versatile—as a fullback, holding midfielder, and winger on either the right or left—he’s finally settled into the left flank. However, even in this more defined role, Johnson certainly isn’t dogmatic about sticking to the left flank. He’s still a roamer, especially during fluid stretches of play, like counter-attacks and quick turnovers. Basically, any time when playing on the run is involved.

Johnson excels in these scenarios. As he’s aged, Johnson’s decision-making on the run has become excellent; he’s fantastic in opening his body to the ball, receiving the pass, then somehow holding onto the ball through traffic. This ability serves him very well on counter-attacks and in playmaking of all kinds—you can count on him to deliver key passes.

In the context of the US team, Johnson is a necessary foil to Pulisic, who increasingly has been more heavily marked and double-teamed by opponents, especially in CONCACAF play. The US needs a player with Johnson’s playmaking abilities to complement Pulisic from the other side of the pitch. Moreover, Johnson’s intelligence on the counter is the kind of thing that can tip a closely contested international match. Let’s all say our prayers that Michael Bradley’s longballs will find him. And that both Pulisic and Wood will be running alongside Johnson on the counter.

Of course, Johnson has his liabilities. For starters, he’s never been a great, or even good defender, aside from his pressing abilities, for which we can all thank old Gladbach boss Lucien Favre. Johnson is weak in the air and probably just below average on set-piece defending or during key 1-v-1 defending situations. In other words, opponents can get around Johnson. However, these defensive weaknesses are relative, given that Johnson plays in the Bundesliga, which is famous for its speed, tactical innovation, and pressing. Put Johnson on an MLS side, and I’m guessing his defending would be just fine. Anyhow, Johnson is a winger, an attacker, and he’s told Arena as much.

At 29, Johnson knows what he is on the pitch. The US can always use such surety, which, in this case, has been sharpened by a long career in Europe that includes experience in the 2.Bundesliga, the Bundesliga, the Champions League, and the Europa League—especially now that World Cup qualification hangs in a more precarious spot following a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that they get Johnson more involved.

In the lead up to the 2018 World Cup, spare a moment from your Premier League binge watching and switch over to to see if Johnson and the Foals are playing. Enjoy him on the counter. Enjoy him in the final third. And see a player who will be important for the US in Russia next summer.  

You just get excited about games like this

New signing Matthias Ginter speaks about the upcoming derby against 1. FC Köln, the atmosphere in BORUSSIA-PARK and the Fohlenelf’s upcoming fixtures at the start of the season.Matthias, you’re going into the 50th Bundesliga season and also the home derby against 1. FC Köln. Are you happy with the fixture list for this season?Ginter:Yeah, it [...]

Read More »


Borussia Mönchengladbach: Let the ball do the talking

It gets serious for Borussia Mönchengladbach and coach Dieter Hecking is highly pleased to have an interesting and talented squad to work with this season.The training exercises are intensive, the team is physically very far and the integration of the new players runs almost smoothly. The national players have caught up with the rest and [...]

Read More »


Wendt extends his stay at Borussia

Defender Oscar Wendt has agreed a one-year contract extension with Borussia which will keep him at the club for an extra year, until 2019.The 31-year-old Swede today signed a contract with Borussia which will last until June 2019. “Oscar has made himself a crucial part of the side. He is part of the squad committee [...]

Read More »


Save 15% On All Orders!

With the new season quickly approaching now is the time to place your orders!  Save 15% off all orders for a limited time by entering code: BMG15 at checkout... order NOW

Read More »


The New Third Kit Is Here!

Place your pre-orders HERE today!

Read More »


Elvedi and Doucouré rejoin training

Nico Elvedi and Mamadou Doucouré rejoined the squad in training on their third day in Rottach-Egern and completed all parts of the morning session.There was some good news for head coach Dieter Hecking on the team’s third day in Rottach-Egern. Nico Elvedi and Mamadou Doucouré completed the full training session with the rest of the [...]

Read More »


28 players head to Tegernsee

Borussia will take 28 players to their training camp in Rottach-Egern on Monday, with the first training session taking place there in the afternoon.Borussia have only been back in pre-season training for two weeks, but have already played two friendlies as well as the Telekom Cup. Now it's time for the next stage of the [...]

Read More »


Lots of positive, some things to improve on

Round up and analysis of the Telekom Cup as Borussia lose two penalty shootouts: 5-3 to Werder Bremen and 6-5 to 1899 Hoffenheim.The story of the tournament: Although we're still in the early stages of pre-season, the Fohlenelf faced Bundesliga opposition at the Telekom Cup on Saturday 15th July 2017. After 45 minutes against Werder [...]

Read More »


"I see the move as a challenge"

Borussia have officially confirmed the signing of midfielder Denis Zakaria from Young Boys Bern. On Friday, the 20 year old was unveiled in a press conference.Denis Zakaria on…… his decision to join Borussia: I felt their faith in me when I was speaking to them - this is how it was when I moved from [...]

Read More »




Recent Updates

Newsletter



Follow the Foals