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USMNT Daily Update: Is Johannsson the latest dual national to pass on USA?

AronJohannsson (Getty)

His name is Aron Johannsson and he can't stop scoring goals. He is an Iceland Under-21 player who is reportedl starting to attract the attention of big European clubs by scoring goal after goal (rumors of interest from Arsenal have already surfaced). He has 11 in 11 matches for Danish side AGF Aarhus to be exact, an impressive number regardless of league.

So why should you even care about him aside from him potentially being targeted by your favorite European power? You might want to care because he was born in Alabama, where he lived for three years before spending most of his formative years in Iceland with his Icelandic parents (who were attending college in Alabama when he was born).

He hit the radar of American fans after scoring what might have been the fastest hat-trick ever (three goals in four minutes), and after giving an interview with the New York Times Goal blog last month, when he admitted that he would consider playing for the United States if he were called up by Jurgen Klinsmann. 

“To tell the truth, I’ve never really thought about playing for the United States national team,” Johannsson told the Goal Blog. “I’ve lived in Iceland almost my whole life. I’ve always had it as a goal to play for the Icelandic national team. But if Jurgen Klinsmann calls me and says he wants me to play for the United States, then it would be pretty hard to say no. “

It sounded like a fairly political answer, and almost sounded like a message to the Iceland senior national team that they might want to give him a call before it's too late.

Iceland got the message, and that call came this week. Now Johannsson is faced with potentially being cap-tied to Iceland by playing in upcoming World Cup qualifiers later this month.

And if he does? USMNT fans can go ahead and get over it.

Would it be nice if another promising young prospect joined the U.S. national team pool? Sure, and we could certainly still have a case where he decides to either not accept the call-up, or doesn't wind up playing in one of those cap-tying qualifiers (and you can bet Klinsmann will think about making a call in that case). But if we don't, and if he puts on that Iceland shirt and joins current Russian League star Yura Movsisyan as a standout striker who could have been a U.S. national team striker under different circumstances?

So be it.

It isn't as if he was born and raised in the USA like a Giuseppe Rossi, or spent his formative years here and played for U.S. youth teams before dumping the USA for another national team like Neven Subotic. No, Johannsson is just a talented young player who gave a polite anwer to a question about whether he would consider playing for the USA (an answer he found himself backtracking on to European media almost immediately).

No, there's nothing wrong with dreaming about every single player in the world with an American tie choosing the USA. That's natural to want for every U.S. fan, especially when we see players like Subotic and Rossi go on to do well, but at the same time we shouldn't forget that there are some pretty good younger forward prospects in the U.S. pool, arguably more than ever. From Jozy Altidore to Terrence Boyd, to C.J. Sapong and Chris Pontius (and let's not write off Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo just yet).

Johannsson has the look of a difference maker, but if he doesn't pick the U.S. there won't be any reason to panic. It might sting a bit if he does develop into a star, but it might wind up being easier to deal with if players like Altidore and Boyd continue to impress and improve.

Losing out on Johannsson seems a very real possibility, but let's remember this. He stands to miss out on just as much, because while he may go on to club greatness, young U.S. forwards like Altidore and Boyd will be playing in World Cups.


  1. Yes, but unlike Stuart Holden, Juan Agudelo, and Freddy Adu amongst other current and former US nationals, he could be President if he were to live here long enough to meet the residency requirement. With that being said, I think he made a good decision by following his heart.

  2. you are right. he has been a late bloomer. Iceland has a strong frontline, I wonder if he will see the field in these qualifiers.

  3. not sure about that. in the USA side his competition would be Herc and he is at the end of his national career. Jozy and Boyd are a different type of player, not sure it would be his competition. besides, he is also a left winger, we don’t have too many of those too.

  4. He can’t be President. Not just because of his age (of course), but also there’s a 14 year residency requirement, which I think would eliminate quite a few guys in our pool already.

  5. did he really spend a year in Bradenton? That kind of destroys the premise of “he had no real ties to the US,” doesn’t it? If that is true, that certainly should have been mentioned in the story (again, if it is true)

    (SBI-Johansson spent a year with the IMG Academy soccer program, which is NOT the same as the U.S. Under-17 program. Both programs were run at the same facility, but were not the same thing. Him spending some time in a private soccer academy in the U.S. isn’t really something that binds him to the U.S.)

  6. He was born in the US and thus has citizenship here. However he grew up in Iceland from the time he was 3. So doubt he remembers any of his time here.

  7. Oh come on. We already have dual nationals playing well in lesser euro leagues…not finding the Nats net. We don’t need another. How about an Ives story on soccer in Iceland. We have several Icelandic kids on college teams in Huntsville Alabama

  8. “Losing out on Johannsson seems a very real possibility, but let’s remember this. He stands to miss out on just as much, because while he may go on to club greatness, young U.S. forwards like Altidore and Boyd will be playing in World Cups.”

    Well said, Ives! Very nice commentary and it needed to addressed b4 everyone freaks out about him!

  9. The guy is tied to the US only because he was born here and lived here three measily years. In Alabama of all places. Why would you want the fact that you were born in knuckledragging Alabama advertised?

  10. First of all Iceland beat Norway. The biggest threat in the group.

    Second, Iceland has a world class team in the attack talent wise. Aron wont even be nr 1 in the striker, that’s how good Bjorn bergmann and kolbeinn sigthorsson are. Iceland could possibly win against America, and will be playing in the euro’s soon. And I believe they could easily win their group.

    Also, Iceland once almost qualified for a competition, but unfairly tied against germany. This was when we had our best player ever asgeir sigurvinsson coaching our team, and had eidur gudjohnsen and a couple other decent players.

  11. yes…seriously…

    6 Inga Dis Juliusdottir SR D 5-5 Akureyri, Iceland
    7 Nicole Letford SO MF/F 5-4 Stirling, Scotland
    8 Eyrun Rakel Agnarsdottir SO MF 5-3 Reykjavik, Iceland
    9 Dagmar Gunnarsdottir SO F 5-10 Reykjavik, Iceland
    10 Maria Ros Arngrimsdottir SO MF/F 5-5 Reykjavik, Iceland
    11 Alexandra Sveinsdottir JR F 5-8 Egilsstaðir, Iceland
    12 Victoria Houston FR MF/D 5-6 Perth, Scotland
    13 Maren Heller SO D 5-9 Leonberg, Germany
    14 Krista Hagen SO MF 5-1 Canberra, Australia
    15 Kendall McCardell FR MF/D 5-5 Mount Pleasant, S.C.
    17 Karina Suetsugu SR F 5-3 Sao Paulo, Brazil
    19 Arna Omarsdottir SO MF/D 5-7 Reykjavik, Iceland
    20 Ida Bjerklund FR MF/D Jessheim, Norway
    21 Kristin Karlsdottir SR MF/D 5-3 Grindavik, Iceland
    23 Unnur Magnusdottir FR D 5-8 Gardabaer, Iceland
    24 Margret Albertsdottir SR F 5-11 Grindavik, Iceland

  12. Being born in the USA is not exactly tenuous. It makes you an American, regardless of where you lived in your formative years. The USA is the only country in the world largely viewed as a ‘melting pot’. With that is dual citizenship.

  13. Why would he want to play for a tundra laden outpost country like Iceland when he has a USA option? Plenty more perks and media attention here.

  14. Considering we had a good pipeline of GKs, he probably did us a favor. If we didn’t, then we would have been ready to string him up.

  15. If his parents had to live in Mobile, Alabama I can understand why his family would encourage him to leave the US in the rear view mirror. Airbus is building a large facility there soon forcing more Europeans to experience the sticky underbelly of the US.

  16. Beating out 3 guys for a starting role for Iceland is much easier than beating out the many more guys on the US depth chart that would be above him. I’m not saying the US could never use him. Of course as much depth as possible would be great. I’m saying from his perspective, his chances of starting for Iceland (not just now but in the future too) are better than his chances of starting for the US.

  17. The kid is only 21. Why decide now ???? Iceland cmon

    He can decline the call up and try a few camps with the US national team before he makes a decision

  18. Kind of hard to show interest in anything other than food and mommy when you’re three years old. “Mommy! Daddy! I am NOT getting on that plane! I don’t WANT to go to Iceland! I want to stay in Birmingham, way down south in the land of cotton!….look away, look away, look away I-I-I-celand!”

  19. He is cute, in a Stu Holden kind of way. I don’t know about hot, though. Which I actually think is a problem all around the world: not enough striking strikers!

  20. His goal scoring form only began 6months ago. He was invisible bwfore then. Iceland had the dude at Ajax and at Wolverhampton and another dude in Holland. Im sure Aron will get his chances

  21. I’m so tired of people saying Germany do the same thing. They don’t.

    Ozil, Khedira, Podolski and Klose all have lived the vast majority of their lives in Germany, it’s akin to saying Gooch isn’t American because he has a foreign name. It’s ridiculous.

    Cacau is different, then again he doesn’t play.

    Dual-national does not equal unfair unless they have a tenuous at best connection to one country.

  22. All is not lost, he can still play for us if he doesn’t see the pitch and later switches. He has been done wrong by the Iceland federation before. Imagine a top striker like him was not used in any of the U23 matches that he suited up.

    Of course, Iceland may just sub him in with 5 minutes to go just to lock him.


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