Commentary

What will become of Julian Green?

By Mike Woitalla

Eleven players who were raised in Germany played for the U.S. national team during the Jurgen Klinsmann era. One of the more intriguing was Julian Green, who was only 18 when he switched his allegiance from Germany to the USA while trying to break through at Bayern Munich.

Klinsmann took Green to the 2014 World Cup, one of five German products on the squad. Less than a month after his 19th birthday, Green entered the USA’s round of 16 game against Belgium at halftime of overtime and on his first touch scored the consolation goal in the USA’s 2-1 loss.

Now 22, Green has the distinction of scoring as many World Cup goals as professional league goals — one. His career has been a struggle since the World Cup.

After the World Cup, Bayern loaned him to a dysfunctional Hamburg SV, where Green played only 113 minutes in five appearances as a sub. The newspaper Die Zeit headlined an article about Green with, “The Fall of a Wunderkind.”

“I read that, and it didn’t affect me,” Green told Sport Bild. “What concerned me were the problems the club was having. But I knew then, my job is to rise again. I have by nature a healthy self-confidence.”

Green returned to Bayern for the 2015-16 season and played for its reserve team in the fourth division. Then Coach Pep Guardiola, who had praised Green around the time he moved to the U.S. national team program — “He can play wide and upfront, left and right” — wasn’t promoting Bayern youth products.

Before the 2016-17 season, new coach Carlo Ancelotti brought him on Bayern’s USA tour and Green scored a hat trick against Inter Milan. Green made the Bayern first team roster. But at at midseason, without having appeared in Bundesliga game for Bayern, he was transferred to second division VfB Stuttgart.

As Stuttgart won with the second division title to earn promotion to the Bundesliga 1, Green appeared in 10 games of the 17 games he was available for, starting seven, but only once going the full 90 in a total of 484 minutes of action. He did score his first pro league goal, in a 2-0 win over Fortuna Duesseldorf. (He has scored one other goal in a professional competitive game, in a 3-1 Bayern Munich German Cup win over FC Augsburg last October.)

Stuttgart starts its Bundesliga campaign at Hertha Berlin on Saturday. Last weekend, Green stayed on the bench in VfB Stuttgart’s German Cup win over fourth division Energie Cottbus on penalty kicks. In the preseason, he had the misfortune of suffering from a knee injury. And Stuttgart, of course, welcomed a good number of new players for its first division campaign — including five attackers. Missing time in preseason gave an edge to other attackers, such as Chadrac Akolo, Takuma Asano, Josip Brekalo and Anastasios Donis.

“They’re all good players,” Green said. “But it’s not my job to judge them. I focus on myself.”

When Green first joined the U.S. national team program, Bayern striker Thomas Mueller said, “the kid is for his age very robust and fast, very willing to work, technically very good. I like him.” And Bayern’s then sporting director Matthias Sammer said, “He can play any offensive position.” What impressed most were the glimpses of superb dribbling skills.

Now he is coming to the end of that 18- to 22-year-old period in which the players tend to break through  -- or reveal that they’ve plateaued. That makes this season especially crucial for Green. A season in which we’ll likely discover whether the youngest player to score a World Cup goal for the USA ever wears the U.S. jersey again.

15 comments about "What will become of Julian Green? ".
  1. schultz rockne, August 17, 2017 at 10:07 p.m.

    Answer: nicht viel. But we'd certainly like to know if Joe Gyau will heal and raise his game again.

  2. Allan Lindh, August 17, 2017 at 10:28 p.m.

    This, my friends, is exactly why young kids, no matter how promising, should go to a good DI college program, for at least a couple years. Doesn't matter how much of a sure thing a kid seems to be, a tiny percentage, certainly less than 5%, probably more like 2%, EVER MAKE IT BIG TIME. College in the US, then MLS, worse things could happen to a kid. Ask Dom Dwyer. 3-4 years in college a kid matures, meets some nice girls, broadens his intellectual horizons, and will be able to support a family the rest of his life, come what may.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 18, 2017 at 9:40 a.m.

    College soccer is a wasteland that stunts development. You get maybe one year worth of development spread over four years. Anyone who has the ability to play as a professional at age 18 (and granted that isn't all that many kids) should do so. School can wait - guys can always go back to school like millions of others have. College soccer may work out fine for the occasional late bloomer but it is no place for elite young players.

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 18, 2017 at 11:36 a.m.

    Yes, although when Dempsey was college aged there were no MLS academy systems or reserve teams to provide a pathway to MLS (or to Europe). There are not many players ready to play at MLS level right out of HS so back then going to college was the only option other than trying to go abroad. That isn't the case now.

  5. Abe Stauffer, August 17, 2017 at 11:28 p.m.

    And to think that JK took this young 18 year old and cut Landon Donovan?

  6. R2 Dad replied, August 18, 2017 at 12:24 a.m.

    Interestingly, LD had 1 appearance and 1 goal his first year for the USMNT--at age 18 as well. Hindsight is 20-20, but apparently butthurt is forever.

  7. Mark Wallis replied, August 18, 2017 at 12:32 a.m.

    Klinsmann wouldn't have taken Donovan if the was the last player on Earth. Then Altidore is injured in the very first game and we have no proven alternative. This is what happens when personal conflicts override the best interests of the team.

  8. R2 Dad, August 18, 2017 at 12:20 a.m.

    MLS seems like a good move for him, if he can't get play time in Germany.

  9. I w Nowozeniuk, August 18, 2017 at 8:53 a.m.

    Being at Bayern, Green had a lot of stiff competition. His saga sounds like a Giuseppe Rossi flashback except that GR made his breakthrough in Spain. While at Man U at 17 yoa, he played on the reserve team amid buzz, made a couple of appearances for the first team and was loaned out to New Castle where he hardly played. Moved to Villareal and his professional career took off. Perhaps he's a good person to interview about the personal obstacles he had to overcome in order to succeed.

  10. William Wang, August 18, 2017 at 4:24 p.m.

    I don't have an opinion about college soccer as far as player development is concerned. However, I find it hard to watch--at least the men's version. It is so low scoring! Lots of 1-0 games. Maybe full FIFA rules or a longer season would help, but there don't seem to be a lot of chances being created, either. This is just my impression after watching a few games. The players seem to have skills, but maybe just not quite good enough to create chances and avoid turning the ball over.

  11. James Madison, August 18, 2017 at 9:25 p.m.

    It's fascinating how discussions can wander. Julian Green supposedly is the subject, but the talk goes instead into everything from the stale debate about college soccer to the equally stale debate about JK shunning LD. The question, it seems to me, is whether Julian Green can make it at Stuttgart or would he be better off elsewhere or is he doomed to be another Freddy Adu because of excessive early attention.

  12. Kris Spyrka, August 19, 2017 at 1:31 p.m.

    He got to play in a World Cup and score a goal. Which puts him in some rarified air. This is the pinnacle of the sport for most. However, you should never manage your entire career on one manager's plans for you. At the time you could argue great decision, odds of being on German national team were not in play, or slim. This was definitely the fast track to the most coveted football stage on earth, but maybe not good long term planning.

  13. Andrew Kear, August 19, 2017 at 10:09 p.m.

    Green is simply not good enough to play for the current USMNT. It is that simple. In fact many of the players Klinsmann picked were not good enough, and that is why he was fired. Even Arena was perplexed by Klinsmann's player choice.

  14. charles davenport, August 24, 2017 at 8:44 p.m.

    great comments,guys (the all inclusive "guys")

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