Despite a 4-1 U.S. loss to a young but exciting Brasilian national team in Wednesday evening’s friendly, praise continues to be poured on Hoffenheim youngster Fabian Johnson. The 24-year-old München-born defender/midfielder has only played 45 Bundesliga matches thus far, but seems to fit well into USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting XI. Along with Hannover’s Steve Cherundolo and Schalke’s Jermaine Jones, Johnson started for the American squad (Dortmund’s Terrence Boyd came on a late substitute) and was rated as one of the top American performers along with goalscorer Herculez Gomez and former Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Michael Bradley.
Here are some thoughts on Johnson’s performance from the American press (most rate on the 1-10 scale with 10 being the best performance). With fellow German-American Timothy Chandler seeming to waver about representing for the U.S. (Chandler also has garnered praise for his work both at right and left back for the Americans), Johnson looks to have a bright future as a starter as the American squad begins 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying in June. The former 1860 München and VfL Wolfsburg man has demonstrated a great deal of versatility both at Hoffenheim and with the USMNT, boosting his value as an international even further.
Avi Creditor (Sports Illustrated) D, Fabian Johnson, 7 — Johnson dazzled going forward for a second straight game, accounting for the assist on Herculez Gomez’ goal. There was never a time when Johnson looked in over his head, as he proved most capable of handling pressure in the back, though his defending was not without faults. Even so, when he was beaten, he showed the recovery speed and ability to ensure that his mistakes did not lead to anything greater. He displayed a non-stop motor and an ability to kick it into high gear up the sideline deep into the match, and his move that faked out Danilo created space for another dangerous cross that led to a promising chance.
Ridge Mahoney (Soccer America) 7 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 5/0.
Great run and ball from the byline set up Herculez Gomez’s point-blank goal, also shimmied free in the second half to loft a ball Gomez nearly knocked down for Clint Dempsey to score. He may be new to the left-back position for both club and country but he looks the part.
Zac Lee Rigg (Goal.com) Timmy Chandler who? Fabian Johnson has established himself as first-choice left back for the U.S. and, after filing a one-time switch, Klinsmann doesn’t have to worry about him representing anyone else. Johnson’s overlapping runs continually instigated attacks, and he assisted the Americans’ only goal.
Christopher McCollum (Yanks Abroad) Fabian Johnson – 7 – Johnson has time and again proven himself to be a talented player with tons of potential, and he was able to put that on display against Brazil. While his defense was good enough to keep him on the left back position, it was his offensive play that shined. His run and combination with Michael Bradley led to assisting Herculez Gomez’s goal, and his filthy feint and turn at the side of the box in the second half allowed him to freely find Gomez at the far post, almost resulting in a second goal.
Jeff Carlisle (ESPN) D Fabian Johnson, 7 — Didn’t look awed defensively and got forward to good effect. His cross that Gomez converted may have been deflected, but it was good enough.
Jack Bell (N.Y. Times blog) D Fabian Johnson Grade: 8 Impressive coming forward, but can he hold his own on defense? Always under control with the ball. Drive to the end line for cross to Gomez gave U.S. a jolt at end of first half. Second-half move to send cross to Gomez probably, by itself, cements his spot at left back for the foreseeable future.
ESPN commentator Alexi Lalas also singled out Johnson, as well as Gomez, as outstanding performers during post-game coverage of the match.