Those of you who were watching the USMNT’s round of 16 match up against Belgium today saw a lot of things. Unfortunately, you saw the ed of the 2014 World Cup for the United States (Captain Hatch and El Bolso will be covering that festival of sighs from the USMNT and Belgian perspectives respectively). As always though, I’m here to shed some light on the positives of the situation. For one, we may have seen a glimpse of the future of fútbol in the United States. Meet Julian Green.
Many of us have been wondering when Green was going to get onto the pitch, and why Klinsmann even carried him on the World Cup roster if he wasn’t planning on using the 19-year old forward. Well, the kid finally got into today’s game, and boy did he make an entrance. Green subbed in for Alejandro Bedoya in the 105th minute, shortly after Romelu Lukaku had given Belgium a 2-0 lead. Just two minutes later, Green did what no other USMNT player had been able to do all game–he found the back of the net. The play was set up beautifully by Michael Bradley (yes, he did something good!), who lifted a ball to Green in the box. Green did the rest, serving up a cracking volley past Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois. Julian Green, the youngest player ever to represent the United Sates in a World Cup, had scored on his first touch.
That’s something you all know, however. What you might not know, is how he came to be on this team. Green was born in Tampa, Florida to an American father and German mother and moved to Germany when he was just two years old. Despite a love for hockey, he turned to fútbol around age 11, and began his youth soccer career with FC Miesbach and SG Hausham before moving on to the youth club of the famed Bundesliga squad Bayern Munich in 2010. In 2013, at the ripe old age of 18, he made his debut for the big club, taking the pitch in the 88th minute of a UEFA Champions League game against CSKA Moscow as a sub for Mario Götze. Green would spend most of the year starring for Bayern’s reserve club, Bayern Munich II, scoring 15 goals in 23 caps and turning a lot of heads in the process.
Green makes his Bayern Munich debut in the UEFA Champions League.
Some of those heads were on the national team. Well, two national teams, actually. Green spent time with the German U-16 and U-17 squads in 2011 before getting one cap (a friendly) for the American U-18 squad and five more for the German U-19 team in 2012 and 2013. That’s when Jurgen came calling. On March 24th, 2014, FIFA approved a change of nationality for Green, making him officially eligible to represent the United States. Two days later, he debuted in a friendly against Mexico. A month ago yesterday, he played in another friendly–this one against Turkey. That was all of his international experience before yesterday’s game against Belgium. That’s what made his goal against Belgium so special. His first “for reals” touch on the international level ended up in the back of the net, in the most desperate moments of his country’s World Cup run. Not a lot of people can make that claim.
So what does the future hold for the diminutive teenager? Well, according to scouting reports, Green possesses a soft touch and combines the pace and agility of a winger with the lethal scoring instinct of a striker, and his array of skills can and should be useful to both Bayern Munich and the USMNT for years to come. Despite only getting a brief look at the kid, I really enjoyed the watching him confidently attacking the Belgian defense, along with 20-year old winger Deandre Yeldin, who currently plays for the Seattle Sounders of MLS. When you throw in 21-year old John Brooks, who scored the game-winner against Ghana in the Group Stage, the future is looking pretty bright for the USMNT. We’ll see these guys all again in four years, and maybe in the quarter-finals.
Let’s Go Ahead and Watch the Goal:
Featured image courtesy of: ISIPhotos.com
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