American Exports: The latest news on Aron Johannsson, Fabian Johnson & Mario Rodriguez
AMSTERDAM – Once again, it's time to clear out all tidbits from our preseason notepad on Americans playing in Europe, starting with the new guy on every soccer fan’s lips in the United States.
With AZ Alkmaar forward Aron Jóhannsson committing to the US national team, his exploits will be added to our recaps going forward. In case you missed it, though, the 22-year-old has already opened the new campaign by showing that he's a worthy replacement for departed predecessor Jozy Altidore in a Dutch Super Cup defeat to Ajax over the weekend.
Jóhannsson bagged the opener with a textbook "right place at the right time" strike and then notched a clever touch assist to help AZ go up 2-0 in a game they eventually lost 3-2. He and the rest of the Cheese Farmers kick off the 2013-14 Eredivisie season with a trip to Heerenveen on Saturday.
BRING 'EM ON
Despite a solid first term with AS Roma, Michael Bradley finds himself with a tougher fight for playing time this season. Kevin Strootman arrived from PSV Eindhoven this summer and hot transfer topic Daniele De Rossi is still around, easily outweighing the subtraction of Panagiotis Tachtsidis.
Nevertheless, Bradley has often shown the ability to raise his game when presented with such challenges. To wit: After entering at halftime with Roma trailing, Bradley volleyed home from close range with 10 minutes left to complete a 2-1 comeback win against friendly foe Aris FC last Friday night.
Game on, Roma midfielders.
Breath easy, USMNT fans. Fabian Johnson (above) returned from an ankle injury with 28 relief minutes in Hoffenheim's 4-1 friendly win over star-studded Greek champs Olympiakos last weekend. Shortly after coming on, the left-sider set up the home team's third with a pinpoint cross.
It remains to be seen where Johnson will fit into the plans of new manager Markus Gisdol. Summer signing Tarik Elyounoussi provides added competition in attack, while left back has become more crowded with the lightning emergence of teen "Germerican" super-athlete Jeremy Toljan.
Yes, I know exactly what you're thinking ... but don't get excited just yet. Former Stuttgart area track champ Toljan is currently a rising member of the Germany U-19 squad, having come up through their youth ranks.
Meanwhile down on the farm (otherwise known as Hoffenheim II), Fabian Hürzeler and Joseph Gyau each got the start in their season-opening 3-0 loss to Mainz 05 II. Both of those players are hoping to crack the top unit at some point in the campaign.
Their first potential window comes on Saturday, when Hoffenheim make a DfB-Pokal first-round trip to fifth-flight mites Aumund-Vegesack. Any club with a name that sounds like a hiking snack will typically not draw anything resembling a starting lineup.
As long as we're talking about young Americans playing in Germany, let's do a quick check on where the others looking in from just outside Bundesliga first teams stand heading into the new season. We talked about Bayern Munich II sensation Julian Green in our last notepad dump, and the teen winger has not let up since.
In his second league appearance, Green netted his third goal of the campaign and added two assists. Could we see the flank terror in a US camp before too long? Remember, Jurgen Klinsmann began seasoning Terrence Boyd while he was still a Regionalliga attacker.
New Borussia Mönchengladbach arrival Mario Rodriguez made his club debut, working the final quarter-hour of a 4-1 rout of opening-day guests VfL Bochum II. His Under-20 World Cup teammate, Caleb Stanko, went the distance in midfield as Freiburg II started league play with a 2-1 win away to their Kaiserslautern counterparts.
Finally, David Spies got his first taste of FC Nürnberg II action with nine minutes in a 3-3 share with FC Schweinfurt. It was not a dream start, however, as the forward's handball set up the visitors' 88th-minute spot-kick equalizer.
Fresh OFI Crete catch Michael Hoyos played 80 minutes from the start of a 1-0 friendly loss at ADO Den Haag on Saturday. The 21-year-old enjoyed a fine first half, despite missing on an early breakaway chance.
His career was set back by a 2011 car accident, but Hoyos is now fighting to start as a midfielder in Greek's top flight – a place of hearty central park battles, to say the least. The Southern California native has played with Argentina's U-20 side, but recently stated he hopes to work his way into the USMNT frame and make a FIFA allegiance switch.