US national team, World Cup player profile: Aron Johannsson

Leave a comment

Aptly chosen as the US #9, the “Iceman” Aron Johannsson has the chance to be something special for the United States national team.

Like Julian Green, Johannsson is of dual nationality and was forced to make a choice between his country of birth and – in Aron’s case – Iceland. And like Julian Green, Johannsson returned to his roots.

His decision was taken as an insult to many back in Iceland, claiming he has “no link to soccer in the United States at all” and “there is no logic behind Aron relinquishing his Icelandic soccer identity.”

Another member of the “new guard” Klinsmann is phasing into the USMNT fold, Johannsson is an winger bursting with speed and precision, and he can – on his best day – make any defender look silly.

He made plenty of defenders appear foolish this past club season, bombing the Dutch Eredivisie and helping his club AZ Alkmaar (Jozy Altidore’s old club) to an eighth-place finish with a monster tally of 17 goals and six assists, plus eight more goals between the Europa League and KNVB Beker.

Johannsson is in the fold to not only play in Brazil, but to start on the wing, and could be a vital source of creativity and goals should he find the form that made his Dutch league season such a success.

MORE: USMNT player profiles

Full name: Aron Jóhannsson

Age: 23

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Position: Forward, Winger

Caps/goals: 8/2

Club: AZ Alkmaar

Best moment in a US shirt: With few true moments to choose from, one stands out above all the others. Johannsson grabbed his debut goal in stunning fashion, securing a wild comeback over Panama to give the United States a 3-2 win and sending the country out of qualifying on a high note. The goal not only sunk Panama in the match, but sunk their World Cup hopes as well, and gave new life to Mexico who – needing Panama to drop points – saw the US come back from 2-1 down in stoppage time.

Starter or squad player at World Cup? This is a mystery at this point.  It would appear Johannsson is in a direct battle with Ale Bedoya, who got the start on the wing against Azerbaijan just a few days ago. However, with two friendlies still to go there’s plenty of time for Johannsson to grab the spot that we admittedly have no real indication of exactly who is leading.  Either way, he figures to be a vital part of the attack in Brazil, and will no doubt see the pitch.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL duo eyeing Asensio and more

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

The ongoing World Cup hasn’t halted the transfer talk across global soccer, and on Wednesday there are a number of potentially intriguing storylines.


Two Premier League sides are chasing Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, including Chelsea and Manchester United, while they will have to battle Paris Saint-Germain as well.

Although Asensio is prepared to stay in Spain next season, he wants to be assured of playing time under new manager Julen Lopetegui, who recently joined the club.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos.


Juventus continues to have several players at the center of transfer rumors, and Miralem Pjanic is a name that keeps popping up.

The midfielder won’t come cheap though, with Juve reportedly set to ask for $92.6 million in the event that a club wants to acquire Pjanic.

Barcelona is rumored to be seeking a move for Pjanic with Andres Iniesta now heading to Vissel Kobe in the J-League.


New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is reportedly looking to bring several of his former Napoli players to Stamford Bridge, including Belgium star Dries Mertens.

The Blues are seeking more attacking options ahead of the fall, and the veteran Mertens has become a proven commodity in front of goal over the course of his Serie A career.

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

Dan Mullan/Getty Images
1 Comment

The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.

Video: Goalkeeping error grants Suarez, Uruguay gift

Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
1 Comment

Luis Suarez was clearly upset with his lack of finishing in Uruguay’s opener last Friday, but the Barcelona man is finally on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup.

[MORE: Ronaldo’s early header gives Portugal win over Morocco ]

The veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute after a close-range finish off of a corner kick.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais came out to try and collect the cross, however, he was slow in his reaction, allowing the ball to slip through to Suarez for the easy finish.

The Uruguayans will reach the Round of 16 with one match remaining if they hold on to their 1-0 lead.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
2 Comments

Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”