The U.S. striker is in the midst of a career season at Dutch outfit AZ, but is simply hoping to be involved at the World Cup this summer.The mystery surrounding Aron Johannsson's international future ended the minute he replaced Eddie Johnson in the United States' friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in August 2013. The mystery of where he is best used by national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann remains unsolved.
There's no doubt that Johannsson, 23, is his country's most in-form forward. In 35 matches for Dutch Eredivisie club AZ Alkmaar this season, he has scored 22 goals. Employed centrally in a front three for his club, Johannsson has found the back of the net with his left foot, his right and his head, from close range and from distance.
Jozy Altidore - the man who, as fate would have it, Johannsson replaced at the head of AZ's attack this season - has led the line for the U.S. over the past year and is the favorite to do so at the 2014 World Cup. Altidore can seem an unstoppable force when on form, but the 24-year-old has found it tough in the English Premier League since moving from AZ to Sunderland before the 2013-14 season.
|U.S. SOCCER LATEST
If Altidore does keep his place up front, then Johannsson must battle Clint Dempsey and perhaps Eddie Johnson for the second attacking spot, or Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi for a place out wide. While it is central where he is perhaps most comfortable, his capability as a second forward or out wide only adds to the riddle.
Unlike his decision to represent the United States over Iceland, where he spent most of his childhood, Alabama-born Johannsson does not have the solution to this mystery. That belongs to Klinsmann.
"I try to focus on my game every day at training and at every game for my team AZ and that's all I can do," Johannsson told Goal. "I try my hardest to make the decision as hard as I can for Jürgen."
And while the expectations of U.S. fans are high for Johannsson, despite having just six caps to his name, the player's own are far more grounded. "Obviously it would be a great honor to be on the airplane to Brazil and to get any minutes at the biggest stage in the world would be amazing," he said.
Johannsson was less restrained when touching on what the next few months meant for his career. Less than four years ago, he was a highly rated teenager with Icelandic minnows Fjölnir. Just over a year ago, he was with Danish Superliga outfit AGF Aarhus. Now, his form with AZ - a club that was Dutch champion as recently as 2009 - is set to deliver him to the 2014 World Cup.
"If everything goes the right way 2014 can be the most important year of my career so far," he said. "It's a dream for every football player to play at the World Cup and show the world how good you are."
Despite choosing to represent the U.S., Johannsson followed Iceland's World Cup qualification campaign closely as the nation reached the UEFA playoffs. "Yes of course, I was hoping that Iceland would have made it to the World Cup for the first time, but unfortunately they didn't," he said. "They are getting better and better every year. They will make it soon."
Johannsson could have been involved, of course, had a groin injury not thwarted a potential debut for the Scandinavian nation in October 2012.
He has little time for sliding doors theories, however. After all, Johannsson has a 2014 World Cup on which to concentrate.
"Things could obviously been different if I had played for Iceland but it didn’t happen, and now I am playing for the USA national team," he said.
"Everything happens for a reason."