UPDATE (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.): Borussia Monchengladbach refutes Jurgen Klinsmann’s doubts over the severity of Fabian Johnson’s injury.
Monday 5:45 p.m.: Add Fabian Johnson to the list of problems Jurgen Klinsmann faces as head coach of the United States men’s national soccer team.
Klinsmann axed Johnson from Team USA ahead of Tuesday’s exhibition game against Costa Rica, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Monday on Twitter.
Klinsmann is unhappy with Johnson because he removed himself from Team USA’s 3-2 CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico on Saturday in the 111th minute. Klinsmann said after the game he had planned to insert goalkeeper Nick Rimando into the game for penalty kicks, but Johnson forced the coach to replace him with Brad Evans in Team USA’s final substitution.
Paul Aguilar made the Rimando substitution a moot point by scoring a stunning game-winning goal in the 118th minute, but Klinsmann nevertheless punished Johnson, according to freelance writer Brian Sciaretta.
Johnson endured a torrid evening against Mexico but previously had been one of Klinsmann’s most dependable performers. The 27-year-old fullback has cemented himself in the starting lineup when healthy, but his apparent insubordination could jeopardize his standing in the U.S. hierarchy in the short, medium and long term.
Finding a dependable option at the left fullback positions has been an ongoing problem for Klinsmann. He now could be searching for one on the right side.
Klinsmann and Team USA are under intense pressure following the Mexico defeat. Their qualification campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia begins next month with games against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Nov. 13 in St. Louis, Mo., and Trinidad and Tobago four days later in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Johnson probably will be back in Germany with his club, Borussia Monchengladbach, when Team USA kicks off its final tune-up against Costa Rica on Tuesday. Whether he returns to the squad next month remains to be seen.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images