Aron Johannsson wants to play in MLS one day. And not in the "it'd be fun to close out my career back in the States" kind of way. He wants to sign up soon.
"Most definitely," Johannsson said on ESPN Soccer Today when asked if he sees himself in MLS. "I've said it a lot of times. I hope just the opportunity comes. I want to, when I'm at the peak of my career, then I want to be playing in the MLS, because I don't want to go there when I'm getting too old and the expectations are too much and I can't handle it.
"So when I'm playing at my best level, I want to be able to play in the US and show people how good I am over there."
Johannsson is 24 years old so if he is going to join MLS while he's still "at the peak" if his career, it has to be within the next five years. And it's very much realistic that it happens.
AZ Alkmaar is a solid club in the Eredivisie, but they're hardly a powerhouse and the Eredivisie isn't a top seven or eight league in Europe. It's not like leaving there for MLS would be a big step down and, if he gets a good deal from MLS, it doesn't even have to be a significant pay cut. With the way MLS has been paying United States internationals of late, it doesn't have to be a pay cut at all either. If Johannsson ends up at a bigger club in a top five league, his MLS plans may be scrapped, but that's hardly imminent.
Jurgen Klinsmann has made playing in Europe a priority and probably wouldn't look kindly upon Johannsson heading to MLS now. But in three years when Klinsmann is no longer the manager, or if MLS comes calling with a big offer, the striker could follow in the footsteps of so many of his U.S. teammates and play in his country's domestic league.