Ooooh man, Iceland. Oooh goodness. You seem upset.
The island nation has never been particularly good at football. They’ve never made a World Cup or a European Championship. Their U21’s had a run in the Euro a few years back (meaning they made the tournament), but that’s about it.
So when Aron Jóhannson switched from the 73rd ranked Iceland to the USMNT, it made sense. I mean, Iceland aren’t too happy, but since the Danish left like 250 years ago, they’ve had it pretty easy. They needed to come back down to Earth, frankly.
Anyway, back to Jóhannson. He’s 22 years old, a striker, and native to the great(ish) state of Alabama. Uncapped for the national team, Jóhannson had previously nabbed 10 caps for the U21 side before announcing he planned to pursue his senior career with the USMNT. It was a bit of fate that pushed him back to the land of milk and McDonald’s, as an injury prevented him from playing the Icelandic national team back in May (which would have prevented him from changing national teams). But we’ll take it.
Prior to his move to AZ in the Dutch Eredivisie last January, the American had 14 goals in half a season in Denmark, good enough to lead the league in goals. Now in the Netherlands, his role was somewhat limited for the Dutch club, but he still managed 3 goals in just 5 appearances. With Jozy Altidore off to England, Aron should see his minutes drastically increase in the coming year.
Jóhannson is a an excellent striker, plain and simple. While he can dart into the box and finish moves, Aron is more than capable of creating opportunities from nothing. Extremely mobile and capable of slotting into almost any role in an offense, the former Arhus star has that “nose for goal” cliche often applied to strikers — his quick, defender-splitting runs gives him a step on opponents to finish moves in the six yard box. His striking range is solid; from range, tight angles and almost anywhere from within the box.
So he’s the man. But where does he fit into the USMNT squad? Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has already confirmed Aron will be called up for the Bosnia friendly . It isn’t super likely he’ll be brought in for the next wave of WCQ, especially given Wondo’s current run of form. But who knows — Wondo or Gomez may very well find themselves stuck on the couch should Aron show Jurgen something in the coming months.
As far as his positioning goes, he isn’t a realistic challenger for Jozy’s role, at least right now. He’ll probably be most effective deployed behind Jozy or on the wing (although he can and should play the 9 if Jozy isn’t in the side). Jozy’s holdup play and strength are worlds better than the newest member of the USMNT, but Jóhannson’s speed and movement should combine wonderfully with Altidore’s skill set.
The 22 year old faces an uphill battle to make the World Cup squad. He’s an excellent get for Klinsmann and the United States, a player for the present and future. He’s got 10 months to book his ticket to Brazil, although he faces steep competition for every position he may hope to play.
UPDATE: In case you didn’t watch the Bosnia friendly, Johannsson tore it up in his brief cameo. A monster. Could’ve scored a brace.