US national team, World Cup player profile: Fabian Johnson

Leave a comment

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

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

Twitter/@Futbolestodo
Leave a comment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

Epsilon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]

Long-term absentee Santi Cazorla will leave Arsenal

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Santi Cazorla hasn’t played a match for the Gunners since suffering a gruesome Achilles injury back in October 2016.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Spanish Chelsea trio ]

And unfortunately for the Spaniard, Cazorla won’t feature for Arsenal again after six years at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal released a statement on Monday revealing the veteran midfielder won’t return to the club in 2018/19, which isn’t unexpected given the extent of his injury.

In his time with the Gunners, Cazorla made 180 appearances in all competitions for the club, and helped Arsenal win two FA Cups.

Cazorla was also a member of the Spanish national team squads that won back-to-back UEFA EURO competitions in 2008 and 2012.