Johnson sent home from USMNT camp after Klinsmann fallout

32 Comments

Fabian Johnson was sent home from U.S. national team camp on Monday after receiving a “severe word” from head coach Jurgen Klinsmann following Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Mexico.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Klinsmann felt that Johnson, who started and played 111 of 120 minutes of Saturday’s CONCACAF Cup defeat, wasn’t sufficiently injured to be removed from the game when the 27-year-old left back requested he be subbed out. Speaking in a press conference Monday, Klinsmann went on to say Johnson could use the additional free time to “rethink his approach about his team,” perhaps implying Johnson isn’t fully bought into his coach’s message.

That’s as far as U.S. Soccer’s official account would go into the matter. We turn to Brian Sciretta for the rest of the story:

Today will likely go down as the day Klinsmann officially “lost the locker room,” as the old saying goes. It’s one thing for Klinsmann to constantly blame his players for their collective shortcomings (meaning that of the players and coach), while taking little or no real responsibility himself. It’s completely different for Klinsmann to publicly call out a player of Johnson’s stature for, essentially, making up an injury in order to quit on the team.

That that player is Johnson, one of Klisnmann’s very first German-American recruits from 2011, only shows how severe the fracture(s) inside the USMNT camp may very well be (becoming). Creating a divide between “them” and “me” was only going to take so long before an explosion of Monday’s proportions occurred.

[ MORE: Dust settles, but questions remain for Klinsmann’s future ]

It’s sad that Johnson, one of the USMNT’s most consistent performers, has been chosen as Klinsmann’s latest scapegoat. So many of the tales told by Klinsmann’s former players (see: Germany and Bayern Munich’s Philip Lahm) are rearing their ugly heads once again with the USMNT.

As I stated in this space last week, Klinsmann isn’t going anywhere before his contract expires in 2018, so it’s almost pointless at this time to continue harping on all the things he’s done wrong over the last four years. Instead, I’ll politely suggest he attempts to build a bond between players and coach that was once, under previous USMNT coaches, a source of inspiration for what were largely considered “overachieving” teams. With the largest-ever player pool currently at his disposal, imagine what Klinsmann and Co. might be able to accomplish with him and his players all pulling in the same direction.

UPDATE:

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
1 Comment

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

@MLS
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.