Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Honed in Germany, but Now Starring in U.S

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Honed in Germany, but Now Starring in U.S

Article excerpt

Fabian Johnson grew up in Germany and plays in the Bundesliga, but he switched his international affiliation last year to his father's country, the United States.

When the United States took on Italy in their international friendly Wednesday, it was a chance for Fabian Johnson to plant his cleats a little more firmly in the plans of Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. coach.

Johnson, 24, joined the national team for the first time last August, when he announced that he would change his international affiliation from Germany to the United States. Three months later, in his American debut, he was Klinsmann's best player, excelling at midfield and notching an assist in a victory over Slovenia.

Now comes another international friendly and another chance for Johnson, who stands 1.83 meters, or 6 feet, tall, to demonstrate his vision and versatility on the field, as Klinsmann continues to piece together the team he will take into qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Johnson, born in Munich, is the son of a German mother and an American father who served in the United States military. He was a United States citizen from birth, but in most measurable ways he has been a German.

Growing up, he went to the United States only on vacation. As a youth soccer player, he developed within the system of a German club, 1860 Munich. There, he emerged as an elite prospect who could play both midfield and defense and who was adept on the ball with both feet. In 2009, he was an integral part of the German under-21 national team that won the European championship.

"I had great time with the German national team," Johnson said. "I think it helped me in my career a lot. I think the U.S.A. will help me even more."

In 2009, Johnson transferred to Wolfsburg, the defending Bundesliga champions, but struggled to find playing time. Another move -- to Hoffenheim in 2011-- had better results. …

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