Fabian Johnson

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Fabian Johnson ruled out for USMNT’s upcoming WC qualifiers

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Ahead of next week’s critical CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, Bruce Arena has been dealt a big blow.

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Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder/defender Fabian Johnson has been ruled out of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s WCQs against Honduras and Panama after sustaining a thigh strain in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League defeat against Schalke.

Arena has named Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi as his replacement for Johnson to fill out the 24-man roster.

There is no timetable for Johnson’s return but it certainly leaves Arena in a difficult position in regards to his starting left back on March 24.

Although Johnson has been known to shift throughout the USMNT lineup during his time on international duty, the 26-year-old has largely locked down the left back position over recent matches.

Meanwhile, the USMNT will have similar difficulty finding a suitable starter at right back with Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin missing out on the upcoming fixtures due to a similar thigh problem.

Veteran outside back DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream and Jorge Villafana are currently Arena’s top options to fill the two outside back positions.

Europa League: Man United through, Schalke comes back, Roma out

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Manchester United cruised into the Europa League quarterfinals by knocking off a depleted FC Rostov side w1-0 at Old Trafford. The Russian side was so banged up, they could only name four players on the bench, and it showed, falling 2-1 on aggregate.

United pressed immediately, with Ibrahimovic hitting the post in just the fourth minute, and Juan Mata eventually struck in the 71st minute as he touched home a brilliant back-heel assist from Zlatan. There was a blow for the English side, however, as they lost Paul Pogba early in the second half to what appeared to be a hamstring injury, as the expensive midfielder limped down the tunnel in the 48th minute, replaced by Marouane Fellaini. Sergio Romero was required to preserve the lead, making a brilliant save with 11 minutes to go on a flicked header by Aleksandr Bukharov, and again on the final whistle to keep out a fantastic free-kick.

Borussia Monchengladbach coughed up a position of advancement as Schalke moved on to the quarters on away goals with a 3-3 aggregate scoreline. The match was highlighted by Mahmoud Daoud’s stunning goal from a great distance in front of the box, scored just ticks before halftime to give Gladbach a 2-0 lead. But Schalke came back to level things at 2-2 on goals from Leon Groetzka and Nabil Bentaleb in the second half, seeing them through thanks to the pair of away goals. Gladbach also suffered a key injury in the win, with American midfielder Fabian Johnson limping off as well, a big blow to the United States national team should he miss time.

Italian side AS Roma crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Lyon despite a 2-1 home win. The French club advanced largely thanks to their 4-2 first leg win, allowing them room for error in Italy. Kevin Strootman scored for Roma, and the eventual winner came on a Lyon own-goal, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback, and Lyon moves on to the quarterfinals.

Elsewhere, Besiktas advanced over Greek giants Olympiacos with a 4-1 home leg, winning 5-2 on aggregate. Vincent Aboubakar scored after just 10 minutes, and the Turkish side got a double from Ryan Babel to put them safely through. Aboubakar was sent off after 40 minutes for a headbutt, but instead of crumbling with the lead, Besiktas added two man-down goals to push them into the quarterfinals.

Ajax topped Copenhagen 2-0 to complete a comeback after falling 2-1 in the opening leg. Bertrand Traore scored 23 minutes in and Kasper Dolberg struck from the spot moments before halftime to put the Dutch side through. Belgian side Anderlecht moved on after backing up their first-leg clean sheet by winning 1-0 at home on a second-half goal by Frank Acheampong.

Spanish side Celta Vigo eased into the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win on the road in Russia. Hugo Mallo and Iago Aspas both scored for the Spaniards as they down Krasnodar 4-1 on aggregate. Finally, Racing Genk topped KAA Gent 6-3 on aggregate with a 1-1 draw in the all-Belgian matchup. Genk had gone up big 5-2 in the opening leg on the road, and they hit cruise control with Timothy Castagne’s 20th minute strike plenty to see them through.

Fabian Johnson forced off injured for Gladbach during Europa League

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Bruce Arena has yet to take charge of a competitive match for the United States after being hired late last year, but he’s already been dealt a double blow of injury news ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers in a week.

With in-form right-back DeAndre Yedlin already out with a hamstring tear, Arena may now be without Fabian Johnson who was forced off the field in the 16th minute of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Europa League match against Schalke with what appeared to be a hamstring injury of his own. With the United States set to play Honduras in just eight days, any hamstring problems for Johnson, however slight, would almost certainly rule him out of at least the first match, and likely even the second against Panama.

Johnson’s loss would be huge. The 29-year-old’s versatility is massive, and his ability to play both on the wing and at full-back gives Arena options with a thin list to choose from at both left and right-back. Still, Johnson plays on the left wing at Gladbach, and his attacking prowess is vital for a team that has struggled to produce consistent pressure on opponents in recent matches.

Players who could be brought in to replace Johnson should he miss out would include Benny Feilhaber or Sascha Kljestan, who are more central, but at least Kljestan could move out wide if in a pinch. Other options at a more defensive spot include Timmy Chandler and Greg Garza, or Graham Zusi if Arena looks to replace Johnson with a wide midfielder. Kellyn Acosta is another option, with the FC Dallas man in good form and able to play at either left or right-back, although he is preferred in a central/defensive midfield position.

There is no word yet from the club on the severity of the injury.

Europa League preview: USMNT’s Johnson vs. Schalke; Man Utd has pitch issues

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Jose Mourinho might not love the substandard pitch at Rostov, but his Manchester United side will have to find a way to perform on it Thursday.

The Red Devils are in Russia, looking to nab some away goals and a bit of comfort in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie with Rostov.

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A comfortable win won’t be easy, but would mean a lot to a United side that has to contend with a FA Cup match against Chelsea this weekend before hosting Rostov next week.

Marcus Rashford is among the Red Devils unwilling to fret over the long trip to Russia. From ManUtd.com:

“Whatever [competition] the club is in, we’re expected to go far and we as players put the pressure on ourselves to try to win the competitions, so for us that’s what we’ve got in mind. We want to win the competition and whoever we have to play against, wherever we have to travel, we want to go there and win.”

Also on tap for Thursday is a pair of intra-league matches. Belgian sides Gent and Genk square off at Ghelamco Arena in Ghent, while new dad and USMNT winger Fabian Johnson will lead Borussia Monchengladbach into Schalke for a 3:05 p.m. EDT kickoff.

Gladbach beat Schalke this weekend in league play, with Johnson scoring. That means that by March 16, they’ll have faced off thrice in under two weeks.

“We will look to remain central again tomorrow but they have probably already prepared for that because they know our game,” Johnson said. “We will have analysed them in the same way they have studied us. It won’t be easy but it’s very doable.

“We’re playing a clear system at the moment and everyone know what they are doing. That makes us better as a team.”

Elsewhere, Roma will try to nab an away edge in Lyon, while Celta Vigo will hope to ease its competitive issues by handling Krasnodar comfortably at home in leg No. 1.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United — 1 p.m. EDT
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht — 1 p.m. EDT
Copenhagen vs. Ajax — 1 p.m. EDY
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar — 3:05 p.m. EDT
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas — 3:05 p.m. EDT
Lyon vs. Roma — 3:05 p.m. EDT
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — 3:05 p.m. EDT
Gent vs. Genk — 3:05 p.m. EDT

Bundesliga wrap: Contenders take advantage of RB Leipzig stumble

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Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga lead is a bit cozier, and RB Leipzig has reason to worry about its second place spot following Saturday’s results in Germany.

RB Leipzig drew on Friday, then watched as Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim gained ground.

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Meanwhile, Werder Bremen continued to put distance between itself and the drop zone. The club has been in the top flight since 1981.

Koln 0-3 Bayern Munich

Javi Martinez’s 25th minute goal was all the visitors needed, though Juan Bernat and Franck Ribery cushioned the win with second half tallies that sent Bayern seven points clear of RB Leipzig.

Borussia Monchengladbach 4-2 Schalke

USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson scored a pair of goals for Gladbach, leapfrogging the hosts over the visitors and into eighth.

Borussia Monchengladbach 6-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Fellow American Christian Pulisic subbed into this one and registered a goal and an assist as Dortmund pulled within six points of second.


Augsburg 2-2 RB Leipzig — Friday
Mainz 1-1 Wolfsburg
Hoffenheim 5-2 Ingolstadt
Werder Bremen 2-0 Darmstadt
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Freiburg — 9:30 a.m. EDT Sunday
Hamburg vs. Hertha Berlin — 11:30 a.m. EDT Sunday



Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 23 17 5 1 57 13 44 8-3-0 9-2-1 56
 RB Leipzig 23 15 4 4 43 24 19 9-1-1 6-3-3 49
 Borussia Dortmund 23 12 7 4 52 25 27 8-3-0 4-4-4 43
 1899 Hoffenheim 23 10 11 2 44 24 20 7-5-0 3-6-2 41
 Hertha BSC Berlin 22 11 4 7 30 24 6 9-1-1 2-3-6 37
 Eintracht Frankfurt 22 10 5 7 25 22 3 6-3-1 4-2-6 35
 1. FC Köln 23 8 9 6 31 25 6 5-5-1 3-4-5 33
 Mönchengladbach 23 9 5 9 29 31 -2 6-3-3 3-2-6 32
 Bayer Leverkusen 23 9 3 11 36 38 -2 5-2-5 4-1-6 30
 SC Freiburg 22 9 3 10 28 39 -11 7-0-4 2-3-6 30
 FSV Mainz 05 23 8 5 10 32 38 -6 5-4-3 3-1-7 29
 FC Augsburg 23 7 7 9 23 30 -7 3-4-5 4-3-4 28
 FC Schalke 04 23 7 6 10 28 27 1 6-2-4 1-4-6 27
 Werder Bremen 23 7 4 12 30 43 -13 4-1-7 3-3-5 25
 VfL Wolfsburg 23 6 5 12 21 34 -13 3-2-7 3-3-5 23
 Hamburger SV 22 5 5 12 21 45 -24 3-3-4 2-2-8 20
 FC Ingolstadt 04 23 5 3 15 21 39 -18 2-2-7 3-1-8 18
 Darmstadt 23 3 3 17 15 45 -30 3-3-6 0-0-11 12