Huge chance for surprise U.S. starter Aron Johannsson

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KANSAS CITY — Two months ago, Aron Johannsson was just some obscure name, a kid who might one day be on the U.S. Soccer fan radar.

Today, he’s a starter in a World Cup qualifier. U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann named the Icelandic-American (born in Alabama, raised in Iceland from a young age) as one of his starters from Friday’s match against Jamaica in Kansas City.

As we keep saying, the match may be meaningless in terms of what it does for the United States in the qualifying picture; Klinsmann’s team booked its spot for Brazil with a win last month over Mexico. But what it means individually as Klinsmann’s core pool of players – probably just north of 30 or so with a realistic chance of getting on next year’s 23-man roster – cannot be underestimated.

For a soccer player, getting to a World Cup is everything.

Johannsson, a striker who plays at Alkmaar in the Netherlands (Jozy Altidore’s old team) is just 22. So he’ll have another chance or two, assuming the United States keeps extending its run of successful qualifying campaigns. The team has gone to every World Cup since last failing to make it in 1986.

Still, Johannsson is like everyone else – he wants to be in Brazil. As we talked about in the previous post on player opportunities, the roster of strikers is fairly stacked and packed.

Johannsson has apparently lapped Terrence Boyd, based on the start tonight. The odds remain slightly stacked against him, but this is a good start.

The United States starting 11 against Jamaica:

Tim Howard; Brad Evans, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, DaMarcus Beasley; Jermaine Jones, Mix Diskerud, Landon Donovan, Alejandro Bedoya; Aron Johannsson, Jozy Altidore.