Aron Jóhannsson is going to be a hero or a goat. Either way, he'll be in the game.
The MRI results are in and the USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann is "full of hope" striker Jozy Altidore will be able to return from his hamstring injury. Sounds dire. Any time a recovery process includes hoping, you can count on seeing the injured player in street clothes. And if Jozy is rocking Levi’s then all those eyes driving up ESPN ratings will be on Aron Jóhannsson, the Alabama-born ringer for young Kevin Bacon, who will be sitting on top of the team's 4-2-3-1 formation. He’s a cross between a mouseketeer and a Viking warrior and he’s our new hope.
Who is this 23-year-old, would-be phenom? Unlike many of his dual-national teammates, Jóhannsson was born to foreigners – students at the University of South Alabama in Mobile – on American soil. The family moved home when he was three, but the toe-head's continental connection remained strong thanks to regular vacation in Florida and a few years at the IMG Academy for soccer prodigies in Bradenton, Florida. He was good enough to skip college and sign with a club back on his frozen island before getting the hell out of there and moving to the Danish then Dutch league, where he found himself backing up Altidore at AZ Alkmaar. When Altidore graduated to the English Premier League this season, Aron took over striking duties and finished the season third in Eredivisie with 17 goals. He has, in short, done this before.
But Jóhannsson’s story remains improbable. With 10 caps for Iceland's under-21 team, he looked primed to play his international games for the national team Íslendingars affectionately call “Strákarnir Okkar.” He made the switch to the Yanks in large part because of Altidore's prodding. Altidore may have pointed out that Iceland has never played in a World Cup and that having a larger fan base – Cincinnati has a bigger population than Iceland – might be fun. Logical as it was, Jóhannsson’s move angered his countrymen, but as he told the Washington Post last month
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