With plenty of questions on the edge of Jurgen Klinsmann’s defense, Fabian Johnson is one of the surefire answers.
Born in Germany to an American father, Johnson has deep roots in German soccer. However, likely on the outside looking into the fold in the German national team, Johnson answered the call from the United States.
Having played for the German national youth ranks, Johnson required a one-time switch to complete his move, and he did so in 2011, making his debut against France in November.
The versatile defender has been deployed all around the pitch under Jurgen Klinsmann, and it’s just that versatility that will likely earn Johnson a start in Brazil. He can play on both edges of defense, as a defensive midfielder, or on the wing, and has been used in all those positions for his country, earning a reputation as a workhorse for both club and country.
On the club scene, Johnson has played for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga for the past three seasons, but is moving to Borussia Moenchengladbach on a free transfer this summer.
Full name: Fabian Johnson
Hometown: Munich, Germany
Position: Defender, right-back/left-back
Club: Borussia Moenchengladbach
Best moment in a US shirt: Johnson doesn’t have any goals for the national team to pull from, but there is one recent performance that speaks to his versatility in a US jersey. Johnson’s performance against Bosnia in the surprise 4-3 win was stellar, especially out of the midfield where he was able to make diving and cutting runs. The 26-year-old set up Jozy Altidore’s second goal, and his ability to turn on the afterburners at a moment’s notice is a quality that won’t be lost when moving from the midfield to the edge of the back line.
Starter or squad player at World Cup? The most likely scenario in Brazil will be starting Johnson at right-back, a position that, in Group G, comes with lofty expectations. It means the 26-year-old will match up directly with Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously, it will take more than Johnson on his own to stop the Ballon d’Or winner, but he is the player who will have the most direct interaction with the Real Madrid playmaker. The other possible scenario would involve Timothy Chandler starting at right-back, which would