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.

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

  1. Jake says:

    It’s hard to “lose out” if you were never really in the game in the first place. This one sounds like a stretch to me that he’d ever want to play for the US.

  2. Jared says:

    I agree. I almost feel like the good job done by the people finding out the American connections is almost too good. They turn up people that could potentially play for the US that were very unlikely to do so.

  3. 2tone says:

    Never really joined the bandwagon on this guy. I think it’s for the best. He wants to play for Iceland. Do we really want players that play half-heartedly for the USMNT anyway. His heart is with Iceland not the U.S.

  4. Ando says:


    I honestly get tired of this. We take players from other countries that could use their talents. Dual-citizens in soccer have a very complex decision when it comes to selecting their national teams. So, to make a kid choose the USA just because he was born here(and the ties end there) and he is decent is unfair.

  5. THomas says:

    If we’re this crazy and competitive about missing out on potential national teamers, imagine what the UK is like. I imagine most everybody in Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Irelabd have some sort of tie to two or more of those federations.

  6. smokeminside says:

    Still, he is one of “Our Boys” regardless which side he chooses.

  7. YO says:

    With Iceland ranked at 97th in the World by FIFA (regarless of validity), he may want to reconsider for a chance to play in the WC.

  8. chris says:

    Not really. One of “Our Boys” is someone who grew up playing in the US Soccer system not someone who has never been to the U.S. since his birth

  9. Ezra says:

    With the depth we have at forward at the moment, he might prefer playing with a country where he has a better chance of actually getting to play.

  10. soccerroo says:

    Glad He wants to play for Iceland. He should play for the country he grew up in and had citizenship in when he was born.I would be happy if he wanted to play here in US but hold no ill feeling about him playing for Iceland.

  11. Jon says:

    Seems like we (i.e. a bunch of random people on the internet, not necessarily the USSF) got hot for this kid like 3 weeks ago.

    He’s been with Iceland. Sure it would be nice to have another option in the striker pool, but hard to get upset about losing something we never had.

  12. 2333333333333333333333324 says:

    I’ve never liked the Icelandic. A bunch of nationalistic pricks. Have they ever been thankful for the US/British intervention during ww2 or stationing troops there for decades to preserve their safety? Nope. Forget them

  13. smelly says:

    This dude just might be the hottest Icelandic striker since that Icelandic dude signed with Barcelona years back

  14. NATO says:

    Born here and lived for the infant years of his life and in a year in high school. But he’s Icelandic to the core. It’s not a big deal. We have Jozy who is nowhere near his peak yet. Same with Boyd and other young guys like Agudelo plus a vet like Gomez

  15. Andy in Atlanta says:

    I get upset about Rossi but that is about it… people got on Subotic but he was not born here and really only played here for his HS years… heck Ibsevic played HS here too…

    Rossi grew up as an American kid and while I not blaming him for passing up the US for Italy.. it still stings..

    this kid Icelandic… much like Brede Hangeland was Norwegian despite being born in Texas

  16. smokeminside says:

    yes, really. Iceland’s nick name is “Our Boys”

  17. KenC says:

    He should play for Iceland, unless he wants to go to the WC, and he makes the USMNT.

  18. David JS says:

    Iceland will finish at least 2nd in their WCQ group, their only real competition are the Swiss. They have a very good chance of qualifying for every Euros and a good share of World Cups in the future.

  19. froboy says:

    Would love to have him, but his country of identity is Iceland, no harm in him playing there his parents are both from there and for all intents and purposes he grew up there. I wish him well

  20. David JS says:

    but I do love Gunner Stahl…

  21. Oranje Mike says:

    Slovenia might be the best in that group. I’ll bet Iceland finishes 3rd at best.

  22. Shane says:

    No thanks, we have enough talent in the US if we would stop listening to Europeans. Good luck with Iceland Johanson because you will be lucky to see a world cup. Funny how coaches in europe are willing to take many many chances on Icelanders but so few on Americans when you consider the relative populations (including Canada and Mexico as americans here, or should I say N. Americans)

  23. somedude says:

    Not a true loss, since it was a dream of his to play for Iceland, and he was wondering why Iceland were ignoring him.

  24. Seriously says:

    Iceland huh? Did his parents play soccer at AUM? There is a large Icelandic presence on the current AUM soccer teams.

  25. MensreaJim says:

    He spent a year in Bradenton, which I think shows some more substantial ties to the US/US soccer/US Soccer than a lot of these guys who just appear out of some Euro academy (And I am as pro German-Americans as anyone. Their dads earned the right for them to move here and get any job they want.).

    Regardless, I certainly can’t blame him and he doesn’t owe us anything. He’ll probably be a star on Iceland–tough to turn that down. Best of luck to him.

  26. MensreaJim says:

    I believe they considered, at least initially, it an invasion as opposed to an intervention. Regardless, go Allies!

  27. Ryan says:

    I hope he chooses the USA. Honestly, why would you play for Iceland if your sole goal is career advancement? I am assuming this about footballers, that their only purpose is to 1-make money 2- win trophies in that order. He will get great exposure playing for the US. He will play in a world cup, probably at least three. If he wants that move to the bundesliga, playing for the US is the only option. Never mind all those gatorade commercials he will steal from Landon.

  28. too soon? says:

    They can have him if he wants to play for Iceland and never make a World Cup or Euro. That’s his call, but it seems like a no-brainer to me. The USA is probably his only shot at meaningful international competition.

  29. ViC El Paso Texas says:

    bring him in,he has soccer blood and we need people like him. In reality every country is doing the same thing, what is the matter. Dont tell germany or mexico is not doing it, right. Mexico national teams for women and men are recruiting from the colleges in America due to the Mexican-American blood connection, especially the women. If you look at the Mexican first division teams, many of them have been recruiting Mexican American young guys and being advised to play for Mexico because even Mexico pays more $$$$$$. So bring him in, he payed his taxes and we need true soccer blood.

  30. Goalscorer24 says:

    What is the competition like for World Cup qualification in the Icelandic region? As people are saying not such a big loss. It might be more painful if he was an excellent center back or a midfield playmaker.

  31. alabamafutbol says:

    Other than my user name, I’m pretty sure this is the only time the word “Alabama” has ever appeared on SBI. Roll Tide?

  32. randall says:

    if he wants to play for us great, if not thats fine too.

    but the “loss” of the leading scorer in the icelandic league is a little less worrisome to me than klinsmann not using the leading scorer in the eredivise that weve already got.

  33. Michael Stypulkoski says:

    I’m no expert on Icelandic soccer, but I don’t believe they’ve ever qualified for a World Cup or a Euro. What makes you think this is going to change?

  34. PurpleGold says:

    Hes fancy…he’ll go glove.

  35. Jahinho_Guerro (TFC Fan) says:

    Ives when you think about, talk about and name off all the players (2)who “rejected” the US mens nats….please think of the neighbours up north..they have had it worse

  36. Ezra says:

    He plays in the Danish league. While it’s not ranked as highly as the Eredivise, it’s still a lot better league than the Icelandic league and there are multiple USMNT players playing in it.

  37. David JS says:

    their group is as follows: Group 5- Switzerland, Iceland, Albania, Cyprus, Norway, and Slovenia. Two games played and Slovenia, their biggest challenger outside of the Swiss, have yet to pick up a point. I admit to only having seen the Swiss, Iceland, and Slovenia play in the last 12 months, and based on my conclusions from those games, I thought Iceland were the most impressive. They also appear to be perhaps the strongest on paper, again my opinion. They might not be a historically successful national team, but in this WCQ group, and with the expansion of the Euros, they appear to be one of the teams on the rise at the right time. It’s just my opinion, obviously, no massively groundbreaking info behind it. But honestly, do you think Iceland is an inferior team to Switzerland, Slovenia, Albania, Cyprus, or Norway?

  38. David JS says:

    you’re entitled to your opinion, but Slovenia are 0-0-2 and bottom of the group at the moment (I’m not saying that proves/disproves anything). If you think Iceland finishes 3rd at best, I assume you think the top 2 will be a combination of Switzerland&Slovenia, just curious who else you think would finish above Iceland?

  39. Illmatic74 says:

    Aron Johansson, Gotuku Sakai and Grant Hanley all seem like Brade Hangeland tyoe situations. Soccer players who happened to be born in the United States but, showed almost no interest in playing for the United States.

  40. Amru says:

    What position does this kid play? Is he a number 9 or kind of like a Chris Pontius winger/striker hybrid?

  41. BamaMan says:

    David JS,

    I would say there’s an excellent chance that Iceland is an inferior team to both Norway and Switzerland, two programs that have qualified for multiple world cups and Euros. I would say that is going to be a very open group, however, and would love to see a traditional minnow like Iceland qualify for the World Cup from UEFA. I don’t think it’s impossible but it will get tougher as things progress.

  42. Old School says:

    Eh, this entire thing seems like a stretch.

  43. Eric says:

    No hard feelings if the kid plays for Iceland. When it comes to international soccer, a player’s heart should be into it. It’s why I don’t hold it against Brad Friedel that he retired when he did from the MNT. It was his choice, and I respect why he made it. Same goes for Rossi. Subotic I am sad about, because he did play for our U-17’s and U-20’s, but I’m glad he’s doing well for Dortmund and Serbia.

    International soccer isn’t club soccer–a player should want to represent a country, and if they don’t, then c’est la vie. I hope Johansson goes on to have a fantastic career wherever he ends up.

  44. Tommy says:

    Hey should play with Iceland if that is where his heart is. I would hold not Rossi against him.

  45. Louis Z says:

    actually, there is 3 other forwards in Iceland’s national team and two of them are under 23 or younger. Aron was also in their U23 team but never made it off the bench. He is a bigger version of Herc and is a lefty, we sure could have used him maybe not now but certainly in the near future.

  46. FGB says:

    Barely anyone in this country is that “crazy and competitive” about guys like this, other than this website.

    This is a non-story unless someone makes it a story with a juicy headline, which could just as easily have read “Guy with little connection or ambition to play for US likely won’t be on USMNT.” But then, that doesn’t reel in hits, now does it?

  47. louis z says:

    Did you know he used to do movies and commercials as a kid? his nickname is “footlose” because of his striking resembles to kevin Bacon.

  48. louis z says:

    actually he played both but he is getting recognition when he moved up to the 9 position.

  49. Call Up Lichaj says:

    A lot of people are talking about how he might be forfeiting his chance to play in the World Cup, but maybe this is about love of country. Can’t blame him for choosing Iceland if that’s the case. Good luck, Aron.

  50. louis z says:

    In my opinion Brad retired because he was not deemed the number 1 golie. he is too much of an alpha to be number 2.

  51. peterjh says:

    Never knew there was a bandwagon.

  52. louis z says:

    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.

  53. afgh says:

    They will never go to a WC but in 2016 the Euros will start having 24teams

  54. afgh says:


  55. afgh says:

    certaintly helped his career

  56. Whoop-whoop says:

    haha. So very nice of folks to give him permission to play for his home country, I am sure he appreciates it.

  57. Amru says:


  58. Dimidri says:

    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.

  59. afgh says:

    if i were him id head to a German or Dutch club come January

  60. afgh says:

    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

  61. smokeminside says:

    And Johansson had a LOT to do with Iceland’s response to our WW2 intervention, the bastard.

  62. smokeminside says:

    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!

  63. smokeminside says:

    If his striking resembles Kevin Bacon’s, he’ll never make the national team anywhere.

  64. smokeminside says:

    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!”

  65. smokeminside says:

    Rossi probably wouldn’t hold you against him, either.

  66. Da Trufth says:

    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

  67. Ezra says:

    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.

  68. CSD says:

    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.

  69. Joe+G says:

    How does Grant Hanley fit into this? I see nothing about him being born in the US. Are you thinking Adam Henley?

  70. Joe+G says:

    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.

  71. divers suck says:

    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.

  72. Vic says:

    He’s using Altidore. However, Altidore isn’t scoring.

  73. divers suck says:

    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.

  74. Cicero82 says:

    Honestly, I’m trying to figure out why this is even a story. If he chooses Iceland, then so be it.

  75. kevin says:

    national pride…

  76. Andy in Atlanta says:


    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

  77. Andy in Atlanta says:

    no less than 15 players from Iceland on the women and mens team…

    Auburn University @ Montgomery (NAIA)

  78. fsddfs says:

    Haha wow cry me a river.

  79. fsddfs says:

    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.

  80. Jason says:

    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?

  81. away goals says:

    While I agree, timmy chandler took this route and is being crucified for it round these parts.

  82. Illmatic74 says:

    Yeah I was thinking about Adam Henley. I always mix up those two.

  83. Bob says:

    “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!

  84. TGA says:

    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

  85. Juan says:

    call him and cap tie him in one of the minnow games. Nothing to lose and we need to find a scorer. Jose isnt it

  86. THomas says:

    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.

  87. THomas says:

    I haven’t liked them since Mighty Ducks 2 came out.

  88. THomas says:

    If he can be President of the United States, he can play for the US Men’s National team in my book.

  89. THomas says:

    Oh boy…here we go

  90. Rory says:

    Dear lord did you ever set up a trap there.

  91. rory says:

    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.)

  92. Rory says:

    Oh just the Swiss team that stopped Spain in the last World Cup… yeah, easy road.

  93. Kelly says:

    When is Klinsmann going to announce our roster for the upcoming qualifiers? Has to be soon…

  94. Rory says:

    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.

  95. louis z says:

    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.

  96. louis z says:

    I think this post proves my point that Aron would have had a better chance at making the USA side than Icelands

  97. louis z says:

    at that time Keller was his competition, not sure how it would have panned out when Timmy was ready.

  98. louis z says:

    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.

  99. DCP says:

    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.

  100. John Lennon says:

    Fresno, CA and Staten Island have a bigger population than the country of Iceland (320,000)

  101. smokeminside says:

    Had some time on my hands….

  102. Joel says:

    I can understand why he might favor Iceland, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing the team that will give you the best chance at trophies and World Cup appearances.