Left foot, right foot, on the wing or in defence, Fabian Johnson can do it all and is a key player for both club and country.
Left foot, right foot, on the wing or in defence, Fabian Johnson can do it all and is a key player for both club and country.

Versatile Johnson vital to USMNT's Copa America tilt

When the Copa America Centenario kicks off in the USA next week, one of the host nation's key players will be a man born and raised on a different continent entirely: Borussia Mönchengladbach's Fabian Johnson.

Unusual as that may be, it is perhaps fitting going into tournament traditionally contested between South American sides, and one that will be staged outside of the CONMEBOL zone for the first time ever as the event marks its 100th anniversary with a special edition on U.S. soil including six CONCACAF nations.

Johnson, a Munich native whose father was an American marine stationed in Germany, arrives at the competition as one of a number of Bundesliga-based players in coach Jürgen Klinsmann's squad, alongside Hertha Berlin's John Anthony Brooks, Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic, Eintracht Frankfurt's Timothy Chandler and new Hamburger SV signing Bobby Wood.

Johnson had another impressive campaign for the Foals, scoring six goals and providing four assists to help them finish fourth. The 28-year-old has played largely on the left wing at club level for the last 18 months, but is equally adept in more defensive roles. He was used in holding midfield a few times for Gladbach over the course of the campaign, while Klinsmann prefers him at left-back, which is where he started in the USA's 1-0 friendly win over Ecuador on Wednesday.

"It's good to know that I have players who can be used in different positions and know what needs to be done," said Klinsmann, praising Johnson's flexibility. Indeed, Johnson's former Gladbach coach, Lucien Favre, complimented him for being "polyvalent", the epitome of a versatile modern footballer. "I can pretty much play anywhere – except in goal," said the player himself.

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