Friendlies for the biggest European clubs in the United States have become a yearly tradition, but this summer is different for Bayern Munich.
This year, they have an American fighting for a spot on the squad.
Julian Green, the once highly touted prodigy that Jurgen Klinsmann controversially brought to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil over Landon Donovan, has resurfaced for the American soccer public after a few years in obscurity.
Following that fateful World Cup, Green returned to Bayern’s reserve side, which plays in the fourth division in Germany. After a failed loan with Hamburg, Green returned to Bayern II, and has yet to break into the full Bundesliga side.
For a 19-year-old, the reserves are fine. For a 21-year-old, it’s a bit disappointing.
With that disappointment in mind, Klinsmann failed to call Green into any USMNT games in 2015 or the early goings of 2016. He missed out on the Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Cup match up with Mexico, as well as this summer’s Copa America, with the hopes that a renewed focus would find Green back in Klinsmann’s sights.
It appears that’s exactly what Green set out to prove during Bayern’s American tour this summer.
New Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti even hinted at the role Green would play, telling reporters before Bayern’s first game that Green “will be important for us in the season.” Ancelotti went on to reward Green with two starts in the International Champions’ Cup, with his second appearance marking his best performance in a Bayern shirt.
Starting on the right wing against Inter Milan’s first team defense, Green managed a hat trick in just 35 minutes. The Bayern winger scampered all over the field, utilizing his incredible speed and finishing ability to find his way into the box on numerous occasions, and sneak three past the Inter keeper.
Keep in mind, that while this was just a friendly, Inter is far from an easy match up. They finished fourth in Serie A last season, will play in this year’s edition of the Europa League, and did not hesitate to play their best against the German giants. That’s a far cry from the fourth division German competition that Green has faced for the majority of the past two years.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see the possibility of Green seeing playing time this year with Bayern’s first team. While Robert Lewandoski and Thomas Muller have the forward spots locked down at Bayern, and rightfully so, they are aging players who have played a ton of minutes in 2016 between club and international competition.
Against lower level Bundesliga teams, whose defenses wouldn’t hold a candle to the one Inter trotted out against Bayern, it’s easy to imagine Green utilizing the same speed and flare to keep the goals flowing in Munich. Thus, he would give the star forwards a rest to keep them fresh for elite competition. Green would supply the depth at forward for one of the top clubs in the world.
With his contract up at the end of the season, this is apparently a make or break year for him at Bayern. However, if his performance against Inter was any indication, he is taking that task very seriously, and will do everything in his power to compete for his rightful spot in 2016.
While Green’s dream of starting for Bayern on a regular basis may never come true, he’s made clear to his American fan base that he is going to compete with all his might, and his development, which seemed derailed for a period of time, is decidedly back on track.