With four goals and one assist in 12 Bundesliga appearances so far this term, Fabian Johnson has been an integral part of Borussia Mönchengladbach's headline-grabbing ascent from bottom of the table after Matchday 5 to fourth at the onset of the winter break.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the USMNT international winger reveals the secret behind his Hinrunde purple patch, before discussing the Bundesliga's growing popularity in the USA.
bundesliga.com: You probably put in your best performances to date in Gladbach colours in the Matchday 14 3-3 draw with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and the Matchday 15 win over FC Bayern München. Can we talk a little about your red-hot form?
Fabian Johnson: I think the fact I’ve been starting games has been key. That wasn’t the case in my first year at Gladbach. I only made 16 appearances, that’s just not enough for me. It was clear that I wasn’t looking my best because I wasn’t playing regularly.
bundesliga.com: Do Andre Schubert’s ideas sit better with you compared to Favre’s?
Johnson: That’s a difficult question. We were really successful under Favre. We played brilliantly during the second half of last season, and I played every game. Now I’ve scored a few goals in quick succession. Obviously that looks good, but who knows if that’ll continue into the Rückrunde? For me the fact is that have performed really well since Andre Schubert came in. I hope that continues in the second half of the season.
bundesliga.com: It’s also gone really well for you with the USMNT. Despite representing Germany at youth level, did the prospect of playing regularly tip the balance in favour of the US?
Johnson: I didn’t think about prospects. When I was at Hofffenheim, Jürgen Klinsmann called and asked if I could see myself playing for the USA. He suggested I come over for a US training camp. So I was flown over and spent a week training with the lads and getting to know them all. I really enjoyed it and that’s why I finally decided on the USA.
bundesliga.com: How do your international teammates view the Bundesliga?
Johnson: I lot of the lads that play in the MLS really want to move to Europe. The clubs and the players are a big pull for them. The Bundesliga is a particularly popular choice because German football is seen as more attractive than the Premier League, for example.
bundesliga.com: Is it a big deal in the USA if you score against Hoffenheim and Bayern?
Johnson: Football in the USA is on the up, and with that, interest in the Bundesliga keeps growing. Bundesliga matches are always broadcast on TV, and I get a good response from my USA teammates who are all genuinely happy for me. Sports papers and broadcasters, that show Bundesliga matches in the USA, have also been in touch about interviews. That tells me that the Bundesliga is definitely in the spotlight in the USA.
bundesliga.com: Could you imagine being involved in the MLS at some point, like your former VfL Wolfsburg teammate Marcel Schäfer has planned?
Johnson: Marcel’s told me about that, but honestly I’m not thinking so far ahead. I feel on top of the world in Gladbach and I’m happy to be able to play in such a fantastic team. Who knows what the future might bring? Most of the time, things don’t go as expected!
Fabian Johnson was speaking to Andreas Kötter