US national team, World Cup player profile: Fabian Johnson

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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.

MORE: USMNT player profiles

Full name: Fabian Johnson

Age: 26

Hometown: Munich, Germany

Position:  Defender, right-back/left-back

Caps/goals: 20/0

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

LIVE – Champions League playoff: Nice-Napoli headlines action

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With Celtic (just about) booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday, four more teams will join them.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Napoli, Olympiacos, Sevilla and Hapoel Be’er Sheva all have narrow leads heading into the second legs which sets things up rather nicely for the winner takes all second legs. Olympiacos and Be’er Sheva will be feeling particularly nervous after conceding at home in the first leg.

On Wednesday five more ties takes place across Europe with Liverpool looking to book their spot in the UCL group stage against Hoffenheim.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all four matches.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs

Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli lead 2-0 on aggregate)
Astana 4-3 Celtic (Celtic advance 8-4 on aggregate)
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel Be’er Sheva lead 2-1 on aggregate)

LIVE – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

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Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Grimsby Town vs. Derby County
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm

Celtic qualify for UEFA Champions League group stage

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Celtic survived a scare in Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second season on the trot.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Brendan Rodgers‘ side beat FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff last week at Celtic Park but the trip to Kazakhstan proved much trickier with Astana leading 4-1 late in the game which had pulled the score back to 6-4 on aggregate.

However, Scott Sinclair had scored a priceless away goal to make it 1-1 at half time and despite a late flurry of goals for the hosts Olivier Ntcham scored a deflected effort and Leigh Griffiths wrapped things up late on as Celtic lost 4-3 on the night but went through 8-4 on aggregate.

Last season the Scottish champions went out in the UCL group stage after being drawn with Manchester City, Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach and will be hoping for a kinder draw this time around.

Premier League clubs on League Cup upset alert

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The second round of the League Cup (known as the Carabao Cup in 2017-18 for sponsorship reasons) kicks off on Tuesday with 13 Premier League clubs in action.

[ MORE: League Cup scores live ]

All 13 have been drawn against lower-league opposition and those klaxons you can hear signify upset alerts.

Below is a look at how each Premier League club will get on as they enter the competition on Tuesday and Wednesday with a ranking on each game out of 10, with 10 being the most likely for an upset to occur.

Remember: the seven PL teams in European competition will enter the League Cup in the third round.


Upset alert ranking for PL clubs

Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 8/10
Brighton vs. Barnet – 4/10
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom – 7/10
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City – 6/10
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth – 7/10
Watford vs. Bristol City – 5/10
MK Dons vs. Swansea City – 5/10

Wednesday
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest – 6/10
Southampton vs. Wolves – 7/10
Huddersfield Town vs. Rotherham United – 7/10
Cheltenham vs. West Ham United – 8/10
Stoke City vs. Rochdale – 6/10
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley – 6/10