Broken hand a setback, but eight months away from squad a bigger issue for Fabian Johnson, U.S.


United States Men’s National Team defender Fabian Johnson only made it through half of Hoffenheim’s Saturday Bundesliga match at Nürnberg, the 26-year-old left back suffering an injury that kept him from emerging from the locker room at intermission. On Sunday, the league’s web site confirmed Johnson has suffered broken bones in his right hand, claiming it was “not yet known” how long he’ll be out.

Johnson left what became a 4-0 loss to Timothy Chandler’s club, leaving his availability or the U.S.’s early March camp uncertain. That camp, the final time the team will convene before beginning preparations for the World Cup, culminates with a March 5 match in Kharkiv against Ukraine. Given he last appeared for the U.S. on Sep. 10 against Mexico, Johnson is now looking at eight months between appearances for the national team by the time he joins the group in May.

That’s a bigger concern that the actual injury. The time Johnson loses is obviously not ideal, but if he comes back some time in March, he’ll have plenty of time to find his game before the end of the Bundesliga season. Besides, it’s a hand injury. It’s not like his recovery will keep him off a bike or treadmill for long.

But given the constant state of flux Jurgen Klinsmann maintains within his squad, missing eight months for the U.S. is a lot different from missing the same time for, say, Spain. Perhaps it’s not as traumatic as being out of the team for Mexico, where the squad was constantly redefined at the end of qualifying, but it’s still a hinderance. The malleability of Klinsmann’s team leads to a constant state of flux.

For instance, it’s assumed that Johnson has an inside track on the team’s left back position, but since the Gold Cup, DaMarcus Beasley has played well when pressed into service. In theory, that frees Johnson to appear in midfield, as he’s infrequently done for the team, but with Landon Donovan’s return to the fold (and Eddie Johnson’s continued presence in the team), Johnson may not be needed farther up the field. Sure, Johnson seems like the best candidate at left back, but between being pressed into service higher up and missing time with injuries, other options have emerged.

These kinds of things can be worked out via otherwise meaningless camps in November and March, but thanks to injuries, Johnson may miss each (he already missed November’s). Klinsmann already knows what Johnson can and can’t do, but when he returns to the team in the weeks ahead of the World Cup, the U.S. boss will have to work out how Johnson fits with an ever-changing squad.

It’s a minor problem, one that’s likely to get solved, but until Johnson is healthy enough to join the national team, there’s nothing Klinsmann can do.

MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 4-1 Houston Dynamo

CHESTER, PA - MARCH 21: Tesho Akindele #13 of FC Dallas celebrates his second half goal with his teammates against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on March 21, 2015 in Chester, Pennsylvania. Dallas won 2-0. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): FC Dallas completed the season sweep over their in-state rivals, defeating the Houston Dynamo 3-1 tonight at Toyota Stadium. Dallas won all three meetings between the two clubs, outscoring Houston 10-2 in the process. David Texeira scored a brace for the home side today, who sit atop the Western Conference, tied with the Galaxy on points. Houston remains three points behind Portland and San Jose for the final playoff spot in the West. Raul Rodriguez picked up a late red card for the Dynamo, and will be suspended for the rest of the season.

[ RELATED: What we learned from Arsenal’s win over Manchester United ]

Three moments that mattered

25′ — Mauro Diaz penalty puts Dallas ahead — Rasheed Olabiyi took down the shifty Fabian Catillo in the box, giving FC Dallas a penalty kick. Mauro Diaz stepped up to the spot and slotted it home, giving the home side a lead.

51′ — Texeira scores on a long-range strike — Ricardo Clark had drawn Houston level in the first half, but David Texeira put Dallas back ahead right after the break. Texeira picked up the ball about 25 yards out and rifled a shot off the crossbar and in, a beautiful strike from Uruguayan.

53′ — Acosta wastes no time to make it 3-1 — Immediately after Texeira had given Dallas the lead, Kellyn Acosta scored to make it 3-1. Fabian Castillo rolled a pass into the box, where Acosta buried it into the top corner.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Texeira

Goalscorers: Diaz (PEN, 25′), Clark (36′). Texeira (51′, 90’+3′), Acosta (53′)

Red card: Rodriguez (89′)

La Liga & Serie A roundup: Villarreal suffers first loss

Michal Duris, Eric Bailly
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Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

Levante 1-0 Villarreal

Villarreal suffered its first loss of the La Liga season, falling 1-0 away to Levante. Levante entered the match without a win, but were able to take advantage of the league leaders, who were forced to play most of the match with ten men after Bojan Jokic was sent off in the first half. Despite playing a man down, Villarreal nearly held on for a draw, but Deyverson scored in the 83rd minute to give Levante the upset win.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real MadridMORE

Real failed to capitalize on Villarreal’s loss, as an early season Madrid derby ended in a 1-1 draw. Karim Benzema’s stellar form continued as the French striker put Real ahead early in the match, but Luciano Vietto equalized with less than ten minutes to play for Atleti. Real Madrid sits second in the league, one point behind Villarreal.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup ]

Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Valencia

After a big win over Lyon in the Champions League, Valencia fell 3-1 to Athletic Bilbao in La Liga play. Dani Parejo gave Valencia the lead 20 minutes in, but Athletic responded with three unanswered goals to earn a win for Ernesto Valverde’s men.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Rayo 0-2 Real Betis
Celta Vigo 0-0 Getafe
Sevilla 2-1 Barcelona
Espanyol 1-2 Sporting Gijon
Malaga 3-1 Real Sociedad
Granada 1-1 Deportivo
Las Palmas 0-2 Eibar

AC Milan 0-4 Napoli

Napoli traveled to the San Siro and got a massive win, thrashing AC Milan by four goals. Lorenzo Insigne continues to score for Napoli, as the striker bagged a brace for his side, who have now won three straight in Serie A. The loss was Milan’s first dropped points at home this season, as the Rossoneri have been shutout in consecutive matches.

[ RELATED: Zlatan becomes PSG’s all-time leading goalscorer ]

Juventus 3-1 Bologna

Juventus followed up a win in the Champions League over Sevilla with a win in Serie A over Bologna, who have lost six of seven matches to open the season. Alvaro Morata scored again for Juve, while Sami Khedira also got on the scoresheet, the German’s first goal for his new club. The result was just the second league win of the season for Juventus, who move up to 12th on the table.

Sampdoria 1-1 Inter Milan

After opening the season with five straight victories, Inter Milan is now winless in two after drawing away to Sampdoria. On the heels of a loss to Fiorentina, Inter fell behind to Sampdoria after Luis Muriel put the hosts ahead. However, Inter grabbed a point through Ivan Perisic, who scored his first goal for the club since joining from Wolfsburg this summer.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Carpi 2-1 Torino
Chievo 1-1 Verona
Empoli 1-0 Sassuolo
Palermo 2-4 Roma
Lazio 2-0 Frosinone
Fiorentina 3-0 Atalanta
Udinese 1-1 Genoa