Klinsmann: 'I'm not comparing Julian with Landon'

By Mike Woitalla

On paper, the inclusion of Julian Green seems Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's most controversial roster pick for the 2014 World Cup.

The 18-year-old Bayern Munich attacker has yet to see action in the Bundesliga. He did make a two-minute off the bench in a meaningless UEFA Champions League game last fall but otherwise has played fourth division ball with Bayern's reserve team.

Klinsmann: 'It's down to pure performance'

Klinsmann must believe that Green is more likely to help the USA at the World Cup than Landon Donovan, the USA’s all-time leading scorer and veteran of the last three World Cups.

“I’m not comparing Julian with Landon,” said Klinsmann. "That’s absolutely not the discussion. We have in Julian a player who brings certain values to the team that we observed over almost two years in many, many of his games and his training sessions at Bayern Munich. And we see it by talking to [Bayern coach] Pep Guardiola many times.”

Guardiola has praised Green saying he “can play wide and up front, left and right.” Green has appeared and scored in friendly games with Bayern’s first team. This past season he scored 15 goals in 21 games for Bayern Munich II.

“We see a very special talent coming through,” said Klinsmann. “He’s getting more and more ready everyday. He’s getting stronger everyday and he has more confidence.”

Klinsmann said he did not promise a World Cup roster spot while convincing Green, who was born in Florida and has lived in Germany since age 2, to commit to the USA after spending a couple days to U.S. training camp in March. Green then played 31 minutes in the 2-2 friendly with Mexico April 2 and showed signs that he could possess dribbling skills the USA generally lacks.

And, apparently, Green has been extremely impressive in training camp with the USA.

“He’s very well respected already in this group,” Klinsmann said. “In a soccer team, it’s very simple. They measure themselves with the quality they bring to the table -- not the age or not where they’re coming from.

“They want to see that in the games and over the last 10 days we had a lot and lot of small-sided games. Very competitive games and games where he cannot hide. And Julian didn’t hide. Not even one second.”

“If you ask the other players what they think about the kid you’ll hear a lot of positives.”

Klinsmann then insisted again there was never a comparison between Green and Donovan. But it’s hard to believe Donovan would have been dropped if he didn’t think Green could add the kind of offensive spark that Donovan had delivered for so many years.
18 comments about "Klinsmann: 'I'm not comparing Julian with Landon'".
  1. Richard Weishaupt, May 23, 2014 at 2:46 p.m.

    I don't think it comes down to LD versus Green. It comes down to LD versus the likes of Mix Diskerud and Graham Zusi and other mediocre players. The fact is JK doesn't like LD and has made it clear for sometime that he intended to cut him if he had any opportunity to do so. I understand keeping Green and grooming him; what I don't understand is letting personal feelings cloud professional, objective judgments. I simply don't believe that there are 23 players ahead of LD, even if he has lost a step. Shame on you Mr. Klinsmann.

  2. Chris Morris, May 23, 2014 at 2:55 p.m.

    JK does not want people to think of Green as Donovan’s replacement but many do view it that way (see for example Jimmy Conrad’s tweet). I think one reason for this is that the role Green is likely to take on (if he plays) is the one most people thought Donovan would have; i.e., second-half sub to provide a spark. There are also some similarities in playing style with the 2002 version of Donovan.

  3. Rick Kurianowicz, May 23, 2014 at 2:57 p.m.

    The point everyone is missing is that it’s about today ! Not what was done in the past but what can be done today. They will be playing in high heat and humidity and Klinsmann is looking for as he said “warriors!”. He needs the youth to hold up in the heat. He needs the youth to be aggressive in the attack against 3 very difficult and very different teams. And it’s not that there are 23 players better than Landon, it’s only the players at Landon’s position. I think Landon has done a fantastic job for Soccer in the US and for our International team. He was and is a great player. He finally proved himself on the European stage playing very well a couple of years ago at Everton as a playmaker. But time catches up with us all and Landon’s season has not been a standout one so far. Also the major break he took didn’t help his cause. It seems I remember Klinsmann receiving the same feedback in Germany when he made his national team selections and also had a youth movement. It seemed to have worked out very well there that year.

  4. Mark Hardt, May 23, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

    Klinsman cut a deal with Green if he switched. Simple as that. Klinsi has been criticizing Donovan since 2011 for being weak and lacking toughness. For not being a warrior. So the Tough minded German coach goes with what he knows and that is other tough minded Germans or part Germans. Green picked up a should injury against Mexico. Is this the tough warrior he is looking for? I hope they succeed but really I think this is 3 and out.

  5. John Soares, May 23, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.

    Rick, not a bad argument...BUT. This is not Germany and we don't have nearly the choices and even then JK did not take an 18 year old with 30 minutes of experience. Most have argued that Donovan (age and all) is still in the top 3 American players. If such is the case!? How is it he doesn't make the top 23? NO; this personal JK has shown he has the power... but it does not make it right.

  6. I w Nowozeniuk, May 23, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.

    Rick K, you're a breath of fresh-air, not the usual mambo-jumbo about what LD has done in the past. LD is on the decline, and if anyone paid attention to his career, the PASSION on the pitch was more missing than not. As for Mark H, u are probably right that we don't make the next round, and LD being there would not make a difference. As for Coach K's decision, lack of PASSION made him do it. As for RW, you're off the's not that LD is potentially better than the rest, it's his desire that is completely missing; so don't cry for LD when LD is running on fumes.

  7. Kent Pothast, May 23, 2014 at 4:01 p.m.

    We can beat the reasoning to death but the bottom line is that USA is in tough group. If USA doesn't get out of group play, Klinsman's job is probably gone with current roster. If Donovan was in lineup he might have survived. Klinsman put himself under great pressure with LD decision.

  8. Greg Morris, May 23, 2014 at 4:01 p.m.

    What is being missed here by most of the critics is the element we are least able to judge because we haven't been in camp - the mental aspect. This season there has been no spark, no fire to Landon's game. Quite the contrary, he seems to suck energy out of his side. I keep reading that Landon could provide a spark off the bench for 15-20 minutes. How receptive to that is he, really? Has he been passive and stoic in training? Or a leader, showing the young guys what it takes to play in a world cup? I have to believe if it was the latter, he would be on the plane to Brazil. Is it really so hard to believe that a guy that walked away from the game a year ago, in the midst of WC qualifying, just doesn't have the passion any longer to suffer the way a player at that level must?

  9. F. Kirk Malloy, May 23, 2014 at 4:15 p.m.

    Gotta admit, it took guts. I've respected Klinnsy's fresh approach, letting all US players know what it takes to compete at the international level. With this move, he's gone all in. Now if the US drops at the group stage, or worse goes 0-3 (a real possibility if not likelihood), poor Klinsy's head will roll, and perhaps the heads of those who put him in charge. LD is the most (only?) recognizable name among the "once every 4 years" US soccer fan, and this story is not going away. They, along with the growing core US 'football' fans, will be lighting torches and sharpening axes. So, you gotta respect the guy, it took real guts.

  10. Edgar Soudek, May 23, 2014 at 4:46 p.m.

    Now Klinsmann has shown to the world what a true dumbs... he really is!
    Like many others I will fervently root for the USA in Brazil, but Klinsmann taking at least 20 players to Brazil that are FAR BELOW LD in skill-level and passing acumen, not to speak of his proven goal-scoring ability; this really shows a new low for that "coach"...

  11. Alex G. Sicre, May 23, 2014 at 6:41 p.m.

    Klinsmann is wrong to leave Donovan out. Why doesn't he bring all of the German Americans in? And it is personal. I for one, was looking forward to seeing Donovan in his last world cup, perform admirably.

  12. Chris Sapien , May 23, 2014 at 8:17 p.m.

    Newsflash!, the WC will be played in the second "coldest" month of the calendar year in Brazil, so any praise I w for Rick's argument in that regard kinda' goes out the window. It was way hotter last summer in Europe than it probably will end up being in Brazil, and the US did a good enough job in the Hex away games in heat and humidity that will also end up being hotter than Brazil. Bottom line is, regardless of what you perceive as Donovan's lost step or lack of exhibited desire, he has more skill, smarts and tools than Davis ever will have, and Klinn's categorizing him as a forward was to have that excuse to leave him off the team. Look to watch as we give the ball away continuously with this group, putting a mountain of pressure on our tenuous backline, and never accomplish stretching the opponents shape and opening lanes for runs and overlaps. I hope I'm wrong.

  13. Devon Duncan, May 23, 2014 at 10:08 p.m.

    Just plain dumb of JK to leave out LD out of the team the only play make on the team.LD is midfield player not center forward.I never rate JK as great coach and he confirmed that he is dumb.LD you will be miss and I would had love to see you your last World Cup but to the German with is German connections.

  14. Kent James, May 23, 2014 at 10:12 p.m.

    Klinsmann's comments are either disingenuous or he's not the coach I thought he was. If JK offered Green a spot on the team to Brazil in exchange for committing to the US team, that makes sense. Capture a potentially great player for the future. But if he's seriously suggesting he took Green over Donovan because Green looked sharp in small sided game training, I'm flabbergasted. There are lots of people who look sharp in training (even full scrimmages!)that falter on the big stage. Donovan has proven that he can perform at the highest level under intense pressure; that is priceless...

  15. Devon Duncan, May 23, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.

    LD thanks for all the years off great soccer you gave me.Love watching you play and it's sad day in USA soccer history when JK left out of the team.

  16. Thomas Brannan, May 23, 2014 at 11:24 p.m.

    1) I'm sorry. HA HA HA HA HA HA DONOVAN how can that be overlooked. 2) Has anyone thought of asking JK for fitness testing scores of all the players.

  17. Mark Hardt, May 24, 2014 at 7:59 a.m.

    Chris Sapien: Brazil is a long country from top the bottom the way the USA is. So yes they are playing in what is the mid winter in Brazil but the winter part only kicks in towards the south near the Uraguay and Paraguay borders. The USA is playing all its three games near the equator so think Miami in January at the Orange Bowl. If they make it it the next round they could play in the South which would be 40's or 50's at game time.

  18. I w Nowozeniuk, May 24, 2014 at 10:04 a.m.

    Lots of arguments about LD's remaining skills...technically he was the best, but not anymore. K has decided on players who he believes are mentally & physically ready and have the passion mojo in gear. IMHO, what will carry the team into the second round is Team Shape, ability to pressure at the right time, and commitment. No one player is indispensable, and when the moment is right, those who can will deliver.

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