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Aron Johannsson hoping to erase World Cup frustration with Gold Cup success


Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/ USA Today Sports


FOXBORO, Mass. – Aron Johannsson wonders what might have been had things bounced his way at last summer’s World Cup, and now the U.S. Men’s National Team forward wants no such regrets heading into his second major tournament.

Johannsson is entering the Gold Cup after being left frustrated by a World Cup campaign cut short by injury. Struggling with ankle troubles, Johannsson was limited to just one World Cup appearance off the bench in 2014, fulfilling a dream but leaving the forward wanting much, much more.

This summer, Johannsson has no such injuries and the forward is entering the Gold Cup with much more confidence than during the World Cup. Now healthy, Johannsson hopes to make his mark on this summer’s big tournament, starting with a potential appearance in Friday night’s match with Haiti.

“It was very nice to be a part of a team that plays at the World Cup, but it was kind of frustrating when you look back and you think about what could have been,” Johannsson said on Thursday. “When you look back, it’s disappointing how it played out, being injured, and not being able to perform at my best level. Now I’m fit and now it’s a new tournament, so I hope I can show some good things on the pitch.

“It kind of speaks for itself: it’s better to be healthy than to be injured. I had a couple of weeks off before this tournament and I’m getting started now, two weeks ago, and every day is getting better and better and hopefully I get the chance to show it on the pitch some time.”

If the 24-year-old forward is to make an appearance, he will have to beat out fellow reserve Chris Wondolowski and two USMNT regulars in Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, both of whom made their impact in Tuesday’s opener.

Bagging a brace, Dempsey earned himself Man of the Match honors, while Altidore played a crucial role in the team’s first goal of the night.

Having seen those contributions, Johannsson is well aware that unseating the duo in front of him will be anything but easy. But the forward no other option than to try and battle his way into the team through hard work and steady improvement.

“Obviously those are two of the best strikers to play for the U.S.,” Johannsson said. “Between them, they have like 200 games or something and then like 150 to 200 goals, so obviously it’s difficult to break into the team. I’m here to try my best to break into the team and make them fight for their spot as well.

Added Altidore: “He improves every day. From when he first joined AZ (Alkmaar) to when you look at the last games we played in those friendlies, I think he played really well. He’s a guy that can connect the game. He can do a little bit of everything. He’s got great feet. He’s a good passer of the ball, and he can create chances for the team. He’s a great player to have.”

Johannsson is hoping to parlay his improvements into a Gold Cup chance, one that could see him go out and snatch even more playing time going forward.

For Johannsson, the Gold Cup may not have been a tournament in the forefront during his childhood, but he understands exactly how important these next few games could be for him as his international career pushes on.

“I wouldn’t say I know everything about it, but I know quite a lot,” Johannson said of the tournament. “So far it’s been fun. We played one game and got three points and we’ll look to add on that tomorrow.”


  1. Aron is an interesting player in the national team fold where everyone agrees he deserves to be in the squad. He doesn’t face the same criticism as others for some poor performances, but no one is really screaming for him to get a start.

      • yea i kinda feel we’re in this unknown phase of ‘when will Clint become a sub?’ I’m not making any guesses when this will happen but it feels like a stalemate with the players behind him. again, i’m a clint fan and want him to keep on producing, but it creates an interesting situation.

  2. I wouldn’t at all mind seeing Aron start this game. His speed and willingness to make runs may open up more space for Dempsey. Not sure I remember them playing together before, it is certainly worth a look. AJ also seems to have that “hunger” for scoring that the great strikers have.

  3. Sorry Kevin B, you are not as experienced as Dempsey and you cannot break the Haitian “Hold up Play” spell Altinoscore has on Klinsmann….so if you are looking to erase your frustration look for another tournament ……it is what it is son.

  4. “Between them, they have like 200 games or something and then like 150 to 200 goals,” — easy there! More like 60 goals..that would be nice if we were averaging a goal a game from our strikers!

      • haha yea i caught that odd quote as well. makes me wonder how large a rep CD and JA have in the locker room. AJ estimated 150-200 goals? (they have 70 combined). either he is not the greatest at math or he thinks very highly of them two. lol

      • When AJ answered that question, I highly doubt he was sitting in front of his computer,or had a tablet or a smart phone so he could look up Jozy and Clint’s numbers.

    • Because of Klinsman’s grudge against The Great Landon Donovan. I know Aaron did not take Landon’s place, but Klinsi was never going to make it public because that would put pressure on him to include Donovan. As simple as that.

      • Could have took Boyd still, He had a pretty good strike rate in Europa league, and would have helped play that target role.

      • i think Boyd got injured right before the WC, not positive but I was among the group rooting for him to make it and I kind of remember there being a reason i wasn’t unhappy he didn’t make it. i believe the injury was it.

      • Certainly, LD believed that. That’s why he took some time off right before the WC. Just like Messi, Neymar, Muller and Robben.

      • By took some time off you mean a few months from club and country while Klinsmann was trying to build his team and find his core players. Look, I really like Landon. He was a terrific player and I completely get how he could have been worn out. He had a lot of mental health difficulties that prevented him from reaching the best of his abilities, and its admirable to be outspoken about this issue and how he feels. But then comes the professional side of things. Like anybody at their job, you can’t expect to peace out and come back while everyone is working their butt off in their work environment. Especially at a critical point in Klinsmann’s tenure. It’s a gamble he took, and a gamble that Klinsmann told him could jeopardize his national team career. He didn’t do what was asked of him, and that’s reality. The fact all this talk is still going on his ludicrous. Now players like Dempsey know they can’t sleep on the job. They know there will be no seniority, and will work as hard as they can to not get dropped because it can happen if senior players take their foot on the gas.

      • Whatever the reason for LD’s being cut, one thing is certain; every player knows that they have to be as committed as possible to the USMNT or they will be out, and no one is exempt.

        That was not true before JK and as best as I can tell that is a good thing.

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