It looks like Fabian Johnson is back and that’s good news for Jürgen Klinsmann

Back in October, it seemed like Fabian Johnson’s career with the USMNT was in jeopardy. Jürgen Klinsmann sent the player back home following the team’s defeat to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup. Johnson didn’t have the best game against Mexico. He lost track of Javier Hernandez on the Mexican’s opener and he complained of muscle tightness in extra time that forced Klinsmann to take him off. Klinsmann didn’t like the effort and commitment that was shown for the national team. Johnson, who plays for Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany, wasn’t setting the pitch on fire with his club at the start of the season either. Gladbach failed to win in their first 5 games of the season, causing their popular coach, Lucian Favre, to resign.

Things started to look bleak for the 27-year-old. Klinsmann was pushing a youth movement in America, and in Germany, fans were starting to worry that Johnson was becoming a liability. Recently, however, something seems to be happening with Johnson. He’s becoming a key figure at Gladbach. He made headlines against Juventus at the start of November, scoring a goal in his side’s 1-1 draw against the Italian champions. November turned out to be a good month for Johnson. Gladbach haven’t lost and the American has four goals in all competitions.

Johnson’s breakout performance was against Hoffenheim this past weekend. Johnson scored twice, and while his team only managed a draw, it was very much all about Johnson. He was a key figure in Gladbach’s attack, and contributed to his team’s comeback from 3:1 down. Johnson was never afraid to get forward or to cut inside. He started the match on the left, but he was actually on the right when he scored his first goal. Much of Johnson’s resurgence is thanks in part to Gladbach’s more attacking mentality, and that comes from their new coach.

Andre Schubert’s arrival in Gladbach has done a lot of good for the Foals this season. Many of the players have seen a bit of a revival after their horrible start. Schubert has his team playing more adventurous soccer. They don’t spend a lot of time in the opposition’s half, but when they do they strike quickly. Johnson has benefited from this greatly.

Johnson is primarily deployed as a left midfielder, and he’s made it his home. He’s been good at getting forward and distributing the ball. Against Hoffenheim, Johnson completed 84% of his passes and created 3 chances. He also became only the third American to score 1o goals in a Bundesliga career. He’s tied now with Micheal Bradley (also with Gladbach) with 10 goals. His goal scoring is helpful, but his passing and movement has been good enough to earn him plenty of quality playing time in big games. He’s not going to be dropped any time soon.

What all this means for his future with the USMNT remains to be seen. That said, Klinsmann sent him back to Germany to reevaluate his commitment to the sport and he seems to have responded. Klinsmann, who has traditionally used Johnson in defense might want to rethink that. Johnson is making a case that his best position is in midfield now, and based on recent results, it’s going to be hard to dispute that. Klinsmann has long been known as stubborn in his methods, but at some point the US coach is going to have to make a decision on Johnson.

Having been dropped from the USMNT because of lack of commitment seems to have motivated Johnson, and he’s been the best American in Europe in recent weeks. If Klinnsmann wants his players to face the best competition, then he’s getting his wish with Johnson, and Johnson is rising to the occasion. This weekend Johnson and Borrusia Mönchengladbach face their toughest test so far. They get to play Bayern Munich.

About Harrison Prolic

Northern Illinois graduate with a degree in Journalism. Full-time page designer in Madison, Wisconsin. Part time follower of all things German soccer. I tweet about the Bundesliga and plenty of other sports @hprolic.