Thought the dramatic fallout from the United States losing to Mexico in extra time in the CONCACAF Cup was over? Think again: after a wave of squad changes on Sunday, Monday saw USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann has kicked Fabian Johnson off the team, apparently because he felt like he was faking the injury that saw him leave the match on Saturday.
Klinsmann sent Fabian Johnson home -- coach unhappy Johnson removed himself in extra time of U.S.-Mexico despite not being injured. #usmnt— Doug McIntyre (@DougMacESPN) October 12, 2015
Klinsmann was apparently planning to use his last substitution to put in Nick Rimando for a potential penalty shootout -- with the score at 2-2 and extra time winding down when Johnson left the match, that was definitely something to consider, although maybe pushing for a win instead of settling for the coinflip scenario of penalty kicks could have been advisable. Regardless, Klinsmann had to put in Brad Evans and the USMNT gave up another goal anyways, so the match never even made it to penalties.
That leads us to today, where Klinsmann made his dramatic announcement to the press and pretty much threw Johnson under the bus, putting his future involvement in the USMNT in doubt:
Jurgen Klinsmann: "I had a very severe word with Fabian Johnson, and I sent him home today."— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 12, 2015
Klinsmann on sending Fabian Johnson home: "He can rethink his approach about his team."— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 12, 2015
That definitely sounds like Johnson might not be on the team for awhile, so we should be interested to see the announcement of the United States squad for their first World Cup qualifiers in November. Don't be surprised at all if he isn't on the team.
Of course, this situation raises a few questions. First and most obviously, was Johnson faking his injury? We've seen him start to visibly struggle late in matches in hot weather before, so him breaking down after 110 minutes on a warm and humid night in LA in a high-pressure match maybe shouldn't be that shocking. And even if he wasn't hurt, if he was just too worn out to stay effective, is it really so bad for a player to admit that fresher legs are needed in his place in that situation?
Also, why did Klinsmann do this on Monday, just 24 hours before the United States play Costa Rica? Why not on Sunday, when he made a bunch of other squad changes? Maybe he's trying to send a message to the team about expectations and consequences, but honestly, right now it just comes across as grandstanding in the wake of a disappointing result.
Regardless, this is going to be a fascinating situation to watch play out, especially once Johnson has his chance to respond.
Update: Fabian Johnson's club clearly disagrees with Klinsmann.