It is all water under the bridge.
The Jurgen Klinsmann-Fabian Johnson incident that dominated headlines in the aftermath of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico in October appears to be over. Klinsmann has put the episode in the rearview mirror, as evidenced by his call-up of Johnson for the U.S.’s first pair of 2018 World Cup qualifiers this month, and is focused on moving forward with the player.
Klinsmann publicly criticized the 27-year-old Johnson a few weeks ago for what he perceived as a lack of commitment, and dismissed him from camp before the Americans played Costa Rica in a friendly. Klinsmann was unhappy that Johnson asked to be substituted in extra time of the CONCACAF Cup defeat vs. Mexico on Oct. 10, and sent the versatile veteran back to Borussia Moenchengladbach early so that he could “rethink his approach about his team.”
“It’s just a normal statement to make when there are mistakes done, when there are things that need to be explained,” Klinsmann told reporters in Miami, Florida, this week. “Also, I think a lot of people didn’t realize what actually happened there, so I explained it. I’m honest enough to come out and say, ‘Listen, this is what happened.’ He didn’t think that way in that moment, so it was a mistake in that moment.
“Now we have to learn from our mistakes so we avoid it for the next time.”
While Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer maintained last month that Johnson did not suffer an injury in the 3-2 loss to Mexico, Moenchengladbach said it was treating Johnson for a knock immediately upon his return to the club. Johnson then started and went the distance in a league match just days later, and has not missed a game since.
In fact, Johnson has been on a good run of form since his dismissal. He recently assisted on a goal in Bundesliga acton, and became just the sixth U.S. player to score in the UEFA Champions League last week.
“I think the next time, it won’t happen anymore,” said Klinsmann. “Sometimes you have to say things publicly to get everybody kind of on board, everybody understands it, knows how to deal with it. But then the door is always open, and you discuss it. I talked to him, and he will talk to his teammates about it, how he felt about it, and then we move on. He’s one of our most talented players that we have.”
Johnson, who has yet to speak publicly on the incident, and the U.S. now have their sights set on getting off to a good start in World Cup qualifying. The Americans first host St Vincent & the Grenadines on Friday before visiting Trinidad & Tobago four days later.
What do you think of Klinsmann’s comments? Just happy to see that he and Johnson have moved past the incident? How much do you think Johnson’s recent form came into play in Klinsmann’s decision to call him up so quickly?
Share your thoughts below.