US forward Johannsson proud of Icelandic roots

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm •  Published: May 24, 2014
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STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Aron Johannsson angered a few folks back home in Iceland when he chose to make his World Cup bid with the United States and not his parents' homeland where they still live today.

Born in Alabama, Johannsson moved to Iceland at age 3. The speedy young forward, who scored 26 goals this season for the Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, figures he might be able to sway some Icelandic fans and convince t them to cheer for him as he heads to Brazil as part of coach Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster announced Thursday.

Johannsson dealt with an ankle injury that sidelined him for two weeks late in the season, but he has bounced back and hopes to make an impact in a group of forwards missing American star Landon Donovan after he was among the seven players cut this past week.

Forwards include Jozy Altidore, Johannasson's former AZ teammate; captain Clint Dempsey; and fellow newcomer Chris Wondolowski. Johannsson beat out Terrence Boyd, a young American with Rapid Vienna.

"I think it's consistency to score goals. It's obviously important," Johannsson said.

Last August, FIFA approved his change of association so he could make his push with the United States and not Iceland, which has never reached a World Cup. His parents are there, and the 23-year-old Johannsson understands why some people might have been upset.

"It was my decision. Everybody has their own opinion," Johannsson said. "They were not happy with it then, but hopefully they'll root for me in Iceland and hopefully when I come back."

Donovan still considers himself among the best choices for the U.S., though Klinsmann said others in camp were slightly ahead.

"I don't agree with that assessment," Donovan said Saturday after rejoining the LA Galaxy. "I think I was at least as good as everybody else in camp, so from that standpoint, I don't agree with it. I think you guys that know me well know I'm pretty honest when it comes to my assessment. When I say I don't play well, I didn't play well. When I say I played well, I think I played well, and I think I trained and played very well in camp. I think I was one of the better players, so that's why it stings a little."

When Johannsson switched to the U.S. national team, the Football Association of Iceland released a statement questioning the forward's links to U.S. soccer while saying, "There is no logic behind Aron relinquishing his Icelandic soccer identity."

Johannsson insists he had many reasons for joining the U.S., without offering specifics. He has dual citizenship to make it possible.