Fabian Johnson was back in the TSG Hoffenheim lineup yesterday, which is good wonderful news for the U.S. back line situation – one that was suddenly looking a bit sketchy at a pretty bad time.
A knee injury had kept Johnson out of Hoffenheim’s last two matches, a 2-1 loss last week to Eintracht Frankfurt and a scoreless draw with Borussia Monchengladbach as Bundesliga action resumed on Jan. 19 following the winter break.
But he was on the field as previously slumping Hoffenheim turned up with a 2-1 victory at home over Freiburg.
Longtime U.S. right back Steve Cherundolo is out for Hannover at the moment, also with apparent knee trouble.
Johnson (pictured) and Cherundolo are Jurgen Klinsmann’s first-choice back line starters along the outside when healthy, although Timmy Chandler will presumably have something to say about that soon. He will, that is, if he’s around.
Chandler has been quite wishy-wahsy about getting permanently attached to the United States. He says he’s in – but that will be easier to believe when we know for sure the German-American has landed in Miami, where the United States is gathering to prep for this week’s trip into Honduras.
The situation might have ticked upward had Tony Beltran done a better job of seizing his opportunity last week. The Real Salt Lake man got a start against Canada but hardly distinguished himself. (He wasn’t alone.) Justin Morrow did a little better in his start along the left, although he did not quite rise to “difference-maker” status.
Meanwhile, we all know that the central defense has questions makes of its own to consider.
Add it all up and, yes, Johnson’s ability to get back on the field is quite a positive development for Klinsmann and the U.S. national team.