Julian Green has long been a divisive figure among American soccer fans.
Ever since he was selected to the roster of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, at the tender age of 19, many have questioned whether or not Green would make it at the international level. Is this truly the next great American phenom, or just another bust for fans to get excited about, then watch flounder over the course of his career?
The years following the World Cup certainly made it appear that Green would do the latter. He repeatedly failed to earn a spot on Bayern Munich’s senior roster, and was stuck in the German fourth division playing with the reserves. His loan spell at Hamburg was a disaster. He wasn’t progressing at the rate that many Americans believed he should, and thus, Jurgen Klinsmann left him out of the national team picture for years following the World Cup.
However, fast forward to today, and it appears Green’s career is back on track. Not only has he earned a spot on Bayern Munich’s senior team, but he has started scoring for the national team as well. Green nabbed two goals for himself in the United States’ October friendlies, netting one against Cuba and one against New Zealand. While the goal against New Zealand came as a result of some suspect goalkeeping, it’s a goal nonetheless, and a very encouraging sign for those hoping to see Green back with the United States.
When asked about the Bayern Munich forward after the New Zealand game, Klinsmann replied, “Julian Green is back in the picture. He scored another nice goal today but overall he’s becoming more mature, he’s becoming stronger, he’s far more confident. It’s really nice to see his development.”
Clearly, those are encouraging words for Green’s national team future.
While his breakout camp in October is certainly impressive, there remain quite a few questions surrounding Green. Specifically, where exactly does he fit on this team? He came up as a winger in the youth ranks at Bayern, but Carlo Ancelotti has since moved him to an outright forward position, where he has seen a great deal of success.
However, the United States is notoriously short of wing players, and relatively loaded at striker, meaning Green’s best place to get playing time could be on the wing. That’s where Klinsmann chose to deploy him in the USMNT’s two friendly matches, however Klinsmann is notorious for placing players out of position. Where Green fits into this lineup remains to be seen.
If you think getting into the national team will be hard for Green, imagine the challenge he faces at his club. Bayern Munich are undeniably one of the best club sides in the world, and if Green cannot get regular playing time, he could miss out on national team opportunities. Klinsmann has made it clear how important consistent play at the club level is to make one of his rosters, and even if Green pushes himself at Bayern, he may need to look elsewhere to get into a starting XI.
Despite the obvious challenges Green will face getting back into the national team, American fans should be enthralled with how impressive he was in two October friendlies. While it’s hardly the intensity or level of competition the USMNT will face in their game against Mexico on November 11, it’s certainly encouraging for yet another young, attacking player to come into the national team fold. The cautious legacy of those scorned by Freddy Adu will forever live on in the hopes of American soccer fans, but for the mean time, it seems the Americans have a very solid prospect in Julian Green.