Aron Johannsson justifies the USMNT hype vs. Bosnia: "I have to show I'm good enough"
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — It took less than 30 minutes for Aron Johannsson to prove to US national team fans why he's fast become one of the biggest sensations since the days that Charlie Davies broke onto the scene in 2009.
After coming into the match against Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 63rd minute for Eddie Johnson, the Alabama-born forward was an immediate menace in attack, showcasing plenty of industry, good pace, a thrilling change of pace and, to top it all, a refined touch.
The 22-year-old may not have factored in any of the goals that lifted the US to a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind win, but he left his mark all the same.
"It was nice to get my first minutes for the national team," Johannsson (above right) told MLSsoccer.com after earning his first cap. "I was anxious the whole game and waiting, waiting for an opportunity to come in. I came in and I think I did OK. Maybe I should have scored one goal. But hopefully I'll do better next game and try to score goals."
It was the first match in red, white, and blue for the former Iceland youth international who needed FIFA clearance to switch to represent the USA. The paperwork with FIFA's approval came through less than 24 hours from the Bosnia match.
"That's why I think everybody now understands why I tried to convince him to play for the United States and not for Iceland," US manager Jurgen Klinsmann said about Johannsson's performance. "And therefore we're really thrilled to have him on our side and go forward with Aron."
Klinsmann says he pursued Johannsson for more than a year-and-a-half, but it was US hat trick hero Jozy Altidore who immediately saw his talent during his time with AZ Alkmaar, where Johannsson still plays.
"Aron in his first cap was fantastic. You see what he brings to the table," Altidore said after the US win. "I said from the first time I trained with him that this guy is a fantastic player. I heard he was American and I told him straight away that he'd be a huge asset for us and I'm happy he chose the US.
"You see from his first game just his ability to see a pass, to create space for himself. He's a fantastic player and I'm glad that he's here."
Johannsson noted how his partnership up top with Altidore was a good one – "I think we play well together" – and he's hopeful to get the chance to reprise the pairing in future matches.
Could it come as early as the September World Cup qualifiers?
"I don't know. It's up to the coach," Johannsson said. "I just have to keep on playing well and keep playing well in my team in Holland and I sure want to be on that roster and I hope I will."
Fans in Iceland will be cringing at the news of his spectacular US debut on Wednesday, but despite all the controversy surrounding his decision to switch allegiances, Johannsson doesn't doubt for a minute he made the right choice.
"The decision was a personal decision. I took it and I think it's best for me and my family," he said. "Now I'm playing for the US and every time I play minutes there, I have to show I'm good enough to play on the team."