HANOVER, N.J. – Fabian Johnson is fit, the United States national team player said he’s ready to go and contribute ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier at Red Bull Arena against Costa Rica. Perhaps more than that, it appears that Johnson will be slotted into a spot on the field where he can maximize his ability on the ball as well as his speed.
The Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder has been one of the top wide players in the Bundesliga over the last two seasons, making him a constant in the lineup for one of the better teams in Germany during that stretch. But despite his success in the midfield for his club side, Johnson had often been used by former national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann as an outside back. It was puzzling stuff given Johnson’s ability to stretch the field, not to mention his proclivity in the final third.
Now under Bruce Arena, appointed last fall to replace Klinsmann, it appears that Johnson will be in a spot where he can excel. Common sense finally seems to prevail at the national team level.
“We talked about before these camps that he’s going to play me at left mid. I’m looking forward to playing the position which I’m usually playing, which I’m comfortable with,” Johnson said on Thursday. “Yeah, I think that’s where I’m going to play.”
Johnson and the rest of the national team were at the Red Bulls Training Facility on Wednesday ahead of their crucial qualifier against Costa Rica.
With the move to the midfield, the hope is that Johnson can parlay his form in club play to the international stage. Johnson was also asked about the mood around the national team under Arena.
A dual citizen who was born in Germany, Johnson was recruited to the United States by Klinsmann. He had played for Germany at the U-17 level all the way up to the U-21 national team.
“I think the [national team’s] good, the vibe, I think the last few games we had good games, positive games,” Johnson said. “I think we’re trying to keep this run.”
Fitness was a bit of a concern for Johnson, who suffered a back injury a couple of weeks ago during a training session with Borussia Mönchengladbach. He came off the bench and played 11 minutes this past weekend.
He said he’s ready to play more.
“I’m good. The issues with my back, lately, I feel good,” Johnson said. “In training, I just fell on my shoulder. My back, I don’t know, I can’t explain it. I think the only reason I didn’t play the whole 90 for my club team is because I just trained one time. Obviously, it’s not enough to get in the Starting XI. I’m in good shape now.”