Hoffenheim’s Fabian Johnson Called up to USMNT

U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann surprised most national team followers by picking little-known German-American Fabian Johnson for the U.S. roster for upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium in September.   Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo and young 1. FC Nurnberg defender Timothy Chandler were also named to the U.S. squad.

Johnson, 23, joined 1899 Hoffenheim this summer from VfL Wolfsburg and has started all three 2011-2012 Bundesliga matches.  The 6-foot tall defender figures on seeing action at left back for Klinsmann’s team, a spot that has been an Achilles heel for the Americans.  Carlos Bocanegra, Heath Pearce, Edgar Castillo and Jonathan Bornstein are others who have had varying degrees of success at that position for the USMNT over recent years.

Johnson was born in Munich, the son of an American serviceman and German mother.  He started his youth career with Sportfreunde Munich and joined 1860 Munich in 1996, making 90 appearances for the senior side between 2006 and 2009.  He also was part of the 2009 champion German U-21 side.  Johnson joined VfL Wolfsburg in July, 2009 and played in 16 matches in the Volkswagen city before transferring to Hoffenheim this summer.

Impressive in the preseason, Johnson made his Hoffenheim debut as a substitute in Hoffenheim’s extra-time DFB Pokal win over Germania Windeck at the end of July and has played 247 minutes in his three starts.  His performance this season includes Hoffenheim’s impressive victory over champions Borussia Dortmund, in which Johnson showed his versatility by playing as a winger.  Johnson’s ability to play various positions, along with his pace,  look to keep him in Hoffenheim’s lineup under Coach Holger Stanislawski.

Hoffenheim also has other American ties.  Joseph Gyau is on the U-23 Hoffenheim roster  and 17 year-old Charles Renken is also part of the organization.  Veteran striker Vedad Ibisevic, currently out with injury, went to high school in St. Louis and played a year at St. Louis University before being signed by French club PSG.  Ibisevic plays internationally for his native Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Michael Bradley (Borussia Monchengladbach), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt) and David Yelldell (Bayer 04 Leverkusen) are German-based American internationals who did not receive a call-up for the September friendlies.

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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.


  1. Castillo looked a bit over his head in the Mexico friendly, but looked more comfortable against Costa Rica. Not saying he’s the answer, but I hope he gets some more chances as the USMNT rarely has gotten an above average performance at the left back position no matter who’s been in the starting lineup over the last few years.

  2. Haha. Here here to that.

    I watched Johnson practice with the US team. He looks good out there & I’m looking forward to see him officially integrated in the team.

    Is anybody else not a fan of Edgar Castillo? From his few games with the national team he’s seems to be too weak.

  3. Gerry, Hoffe’s website says that he is only in camp for training, so I can only assume that he is waiting for his paperwork to come through from FIFA after playing for Germany U-21’s in the Europameister.

  4. Thanks for writing, Henning. Saurabh Ananth spoke highly of Johnson in his Hoffenheim preview for the Fanatic recently and we’re glad to see him get an opportunity on the American national team. I think there was some doubt as to whether he was interested in representing the US, although he was getting some love on BigSoccer. No one has claimed the left back spot on the USMNT, so I would think Johnson’s best opportunity for playing time internationally would be there.

    Also appreciate your comments on Johnson’s play at 1860 Munich. You’ will have to keep us informed as to how American Bobby Shou Wood is doing in Munich.

  5. I’m not surprised – actually the other day on your Klinsmann post I was going to ask BFs opinion on Johnson. It always seemed to me like people overlooked the fact that he was half-American and therefore applicable.

    I support 1860 and I’m happy that another player who went through our academy may become an international player. You will find me cheering for the US now – at least when he’s onfield.

    Fabian has been most impressive when he was with 1860, very dynamic, very versatile. When he was 19/20 he was a regular starter for us and a he became a mainstay of the team. I always felt Wolfsburg should have used him more and it seems he has taken his game up a notch now that he’s with Hoffenheim.

    Yes he can play leftback, though at 1860 I liked him best as a 6. Still, all my best wishes for him!

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