Why Jurgen Klinsmann Was Right to Leave Eddie Johnson Out of his World Cup Squad

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2014

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Eddie Johnson #18 of the United States Men's National Team in action against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

When United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann called up 30 players to the preliminary squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, almost everyone expected Eddie Johnson's name to be on the list. 

To the surprise of many, the D.C. United forward was left out of the squad completely, as Chris Wondolowski, Terrence Boyd and Julian Green received nods ahead of him. 

When asked about why he left the 30-year-old off the roster, Klinsmann responded by saying this on a conference call with reporters: 

He's a player who brings so much to the table and has done so well with us over the last two years, and scored very, very important goals. And he can also as a left wing or a right wing.

But at the end of the day you have to put them together make [sic] your ranking [of the forwards], and that's just where you don't see Eddie in this roster right now.

Klinsmann is right that Johnson contributed a ton to the qualifying efforts of the Yanks, but he is also correct in stating that he is behind a few players on the forward depth chart who had surged above him in recent months. 

That surge by the likes of Boyd and Wondolowski was helped by the inefficiency in front of goal for Johnson in the first eight games of the 2014 season with D.C.

Before finally scoring on May 17, Johnson had not scored a goal at the club level since October 5, 2013, when he was still a member of the Seattle Sounders. 

Having one of your top goal providers not score for that long is something the Yanks could not see double of due to Jozy Altidore's poor showing at Sunderland this season.

Klinsmann needed to bring in as many in-form forwards as he could, and he did that with Aron Johannsson, Boyd, Wondolowski and the duo of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, both of whom count as forwards at the moment on the United States roster. 

Simply put, Johnson was not in form with D.C., and because of that, there was not a spot on the roster for him, but his issues go deeper than just the numbers. 

May 17, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson (7) shoots the ball in front of Montreal Impact defender Wandrille Lefevre (55) in the first half at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson has long been known to have an attitude problem at the club level, but he has kept those antics to a minimum at the international level.

While having an outspoken character on the roster is one thing, having a player whose body language isn't positive when he's not playing well in camp is something any team doesn't want to have. 

Whenever Johnson falls into one his slumps, which there have been a few of during his career, he ends up looking disinterested at times on the pitch, which leads him to carry what can be perceived as a negative mentality to the playing surface. 

Johnson is also too hot and cold at the international level to be playing on a consistent basis. 

Yes, he did have his best year with the Yanks in 2013 with five goals in 15 appearances, but Johnson has not shown that he can be that player all the time. 

Since earning his international debut in 2004, Johnson has scored more than three goals in a calendar year for the United States on one other occasion, which happened to be 2004. 

The other predicament surrounding Johnson is where exactly he would play in Brazil, if he were going to receive any playing time at all.

Johnson was lined up on the left wing and up front as a forward during the qualification process, but both of those positions are assumed to be locked down at the moment. 

Any combination of Donovan, Fabian Johnson and Graham Zusi is expected to be used on the left wing, and Johannsson or Altidore should occupy the forward position.

At best in Brazil, Johnson would have been an impact substitute, which is why he had to be compared to Boyd and Wondolowski on form. 

Had he netted a few goals in the early stages of the 2014 Major League Soccer season, like Wondolowski did, we could be writing an entirely different story on Johnson. 

But that is not the case, as Johnson wasted his last good chance to be a part of a World Cup side. He will be 34 when the 2018 World Cup in Russia rolls around.

Because of bad form, inconsistency and a questionable work ethic at times, it really should come as no surprise that Klinsmann opted not to bring Johnson into the fold for the World Cup. 


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