A coach should call out a player whom he thinks did not give a full effort, but doing it in public should be a last resort. Unfortunately, Jurgen Klinsmann felt it was okay to throw one of his most versatile players under the bus and send him home from USMNT camp before tomorrow’s match. Now, the only hope is that Fabian Johnson goes back to Borussia Mönchengladbach and verbally reciprocates.
Klinsmann told the media today that he had a “severe word” with Johnson, as the player asked to come off in the CONCACAF Cup based on concern over injury. Johnson was substituted in the second half of extra time for Brad Evans. Klinsmann wanted to bring in Nick Rimando for potential penalty kicks, so having to use his last substitution on Johnson threw off his game plan.
Unfortunately, this logic goes out the window when everyone realized that Klinsmann had Chris Wondolowski up by the fourth, officially ready to come in the game long before the Johnson substitution. Klinsmann went back on his original plan for substitutions anyway, but now he needed a scapegoat after the loss. So, why not blame things on the only Champions League player on the roster?
Klinsmann has been coaching Johnson for three years. He should know that the player does not do well in heat and that Johnson returned from injury three weeks ago. Johnson was ineffective for large parts of the match and playing him over 90 minutes in the heat was not going to help.
Johnson was not the only player who was gassed. Ultimately, it is the manager’s decision to substitute players. With only a few minutes remaining in the match, Klinsmann could have forced Johnson to stay on.
Regardless, the public shaming of Johnson comes off as self-serving with so many calling for the firing of Klinsmann. Johnson is the latest player being called out despite team failure. The anticipation of Johnson’s rebuttal is high, as it will show if the manager and technical director is losing his players. It would not be a surprise if he is considering how absurd the Klinsmann era has become.