About a day ago, Icelandic/American striker Aron Johannsson formally pledged his future national career to the United States. If you don’t know much about Johannsson, don’t feel too bad. He made his first waves for Danish side AGF Aarhus before moving to AZ Alkmaar, Jozy Altidore’s previous team, earlier this year. Household name he is not. And he’s relatively young at 22.
If you’d like to read up more about Aron, I wrote a lengthy piece on his decision between countries back in January that I think still holds some water now. Cliff notes: he scored a hat trick in four minutes with Aarhus. He’s pretty good.
Whether or not Johannsson can make a dent in the USMNT forward rotation is of some conjecture. He is average physically, but he has a cannon for a leg that’s provided some massive thunderbolts and has a great instinct for space inside the box. He scores a lot of goals and seems to fit into that common American striker mold of good instincts, mediocre technicality on possession. All that can change, of course. He’s only 22. But it’s what he’s shown thus far.
By following a path Jozy wore thin at AZ, he may be able to follow that sort of upward trend and elbow his way into a bigger league. In many ways, his future with the USMNT is uncertain. He just entered a rabid dog fight with guys like Terrence Boyd and Juan Agudelo for backup minutes and sub duty. It was evident, at least on face value, that Johannsson chose the struggle for a bigger spotlight over a relatively sure bet as Iceland’s No. 1. Which would be nice, but it wouldn’t get him into many big tournaments. Certainly not the World Cup.
In any case, Johannsson has a chance here. And the KSI, Iceland’s soccer association, isn’t very happy about it, per a release they put out Tuesday. Some awesome choice quotes from the sourest grapes of all time. The spotty translation only makes these better.
“Aron’s ties with soccer in the United States are non-existent.”
“Aaron is an Icelander in skin and hair that we need in tough international competition.”
Lastly, this is interesting. Iceland saying “sponsorship and advertising revenue” played a massive part in his decision to choose the United States. One final slip on a squishy grape peel before going down with elbows flaring and fists flying.
“Yesterday appeared a statement from Aaron that a player chooses to play for the U.S. National Team-A. All that KSI has received suggestions from the stakeholders is earning Aaron as a player for the United States are all others and more in the form of sponsorship and advertising revenue than Player Iceland. It is made out of Iceland internationals play for the country and its people and gain the honor and dignity.”