US national team, World Cup player profile: Aron Johannsson

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Aptly chosen as the US #9, the “Iceman” Aron Johannsson has the chance to be something special for the United States national team.

Like Julian Green, Johannsson is of dual nationality and was forced to make a choice between his country of birth and – in Aron’s case – Iceland. And like Julian Green, Johannsson returned to his roots.

His decision was taken as an insult to many back in Iceland, claiming he has “no link to soccer in the United States at all” and “there is no logic behind Aron relinquishing his Icelandic soccer identity.”

Another member of the “new guard” Klinsmann is phasing into the USMNT fold, Johannsson is an winger bursting with speed and precision, and he can – on his best day – make any defender look silly.

He made plenty of defenders appear foolish this past club season, bombing the Dutch Eredivisie and helping his club AZ Alkmaar (Jozy Altidore’s old club) to an eighth-place finish with a monster tally of 17 goals and six assists, plus eight more goals between the Europa League and KNVB Beker.

Johannsson is in the fold to not only play in Brazil, but to start on the wing, and could be a vital source of creativity and goals should he find the form that made his Dutch league season such a success.

MORE: USMNT player profiles

Full name: Aron Jóhannsson

Age: 23

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Position: Forward, Winger

Caps/goals: 8/2

Club: AZ Alkmaar

Best moment in a US shirt: With few true moments to choose from, one stands out above all the others. Johannsson grabbed his debut goal in stunning fashion, securing a wild comeback over Panama to give the United States a 3-2 win and sending the country out of qualifying on a high note. The goal not only sunk Panama in the match, but sunk their World Cup hopes as well, and gave new life to Mexico who – needing Panama to drop points – saw the US come back from 2-1 down in stoppage time.

Starter or squad player at World Cup? This is a mystery at this point.  It would appear Johannsson is in a direct battle with Ale Bedoya, who got the start on the wing against Azerbaijan just a few days ago. However, with two friendlies still to go there’s plenty of time for Johannsson to grab the spot that we admittedly have no real indication of exactly who is leading.  Either way, he figures to be a vital part of the attack in Brazil, and will no doubt see the pitch.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Another Alexis link; Zlatan, the coach?

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Rumors linking Alexis Sanchez to the half-dozen clubs bigger than Arsenal won’t subside until the summer transfer window closes, which is to say, Thursday’s grandest transfer rumor links the Chilean with a move away from north London.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

With his current contract down to just 10 months, Manchester City are the latest club reportedly interested in snatching him away from the Gunners for a pittance of his true value. That’s not to say $77 million is anything to scoff at, but given the current climate of the transfer market, Sanchez would fetch something closer to $120 million with three or four years to run on his contract.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]


Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four months into rehabilitation from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in April. With five or six months still to go, the big Swede is nearing the point of the process during which he’ll likely announce his next club.

If Manchester United have their way, the 35-year-old might just stick around Old Trafford a while longer. Here’s the catch: Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering offering Ibrahimovic a role on his coaching staff in the interim before he completes his rehab and gets the OK to return to action.

[ MORE: Chelsea plan to raid Spurs — Danny Rose for $64 million ]


14 days remain before the end of the summer transfer window, and Tottenham Hotspur are still yet to sign a single player. The $65 million received upon Kyle Walker‘s departure would burn a hole in the pocket of everyone not named Daniel Levy.

That said, Tottenham are still expected to sign someone before the window closes, and they could certainly do worse than Suarez from Barcelona — that’s Denis Suarez, of course, not Luis. The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder is reportedly close to completing a move to Napoli, but Spurs are said to be late entrants into the race and could easily hijack the deal.

Costa statement: Let me go, “I must return to Atletico Madrid”

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Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.

[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]

Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:

“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.