Julian Green committed to the U.S. Soccer programs on Tuesday, giving the USMNT a young, skilled playmaker and a head start on preparations for the Russia 2018 World Cup
If you’re a U.S. Soccer fan then you’ve probably heard this bit of news already.
Julian Green, an 18-year-old German-American who plays as a winger and forward for Bayern Munich (and Bayern’s various youth and second-tier teams), has declared that he will make the permanent, one-time switch to the U.S. Men’s National Team from the German Football Federation.
For a number of reasons, this is massive news for U.S. Soccer.
First of all, Green is a “special talent,” if USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann is to be believed. An endorsement like that from Klinsmann should not be taken lightly. And from these tantalizing but inconclusive highlights, Green does look like a young player with a bright future.
Second, Green more or less chose U.S. Soccer over the German Football Federation. There was no guarantee that he would ever appear for the German senior team, but he was well on his way to doing so. He has already appeared for some of Germany’s youth teams, and German assistant coach Hansi Flick called Green on Tuesday in the hopes that he could sway the youngster to change his mind and choose Germany instead.
The hype surrounding Green is not some Klinsmann creation – he was a player that was valued in the German youth system with a very real chance at featuring for the senior team in the future. Any player good enough to be desired by Germany is good enough for the U.S. roster.
The most likely scenario for Green’s immediate future is this: he will be on the 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but will not play or will see only very limited playing time. And that would be okay. The move to get Green to play for the U.S. is more about Russia 2018 than Brasil 2014.
By 2018 Green would be 22 years old, with four more seasons of Bundesliga and/or Bundesliga II experience under his belt, as well as having travelled and possibly played in a World Cup.
A lot can happen in four years, of course, but here’s a sampling of the young players who could be reaching their prime or be right in the middle of it in 2018 alongside Green – Jozy Altidore (28 in 2018), Aron Johannsson (27), Luis Gil (24), Joe Corona (27), Benji Joya (24), Paul Arriola (23), Greg Garza (26), Will Packwood (24), Duane Holmes (23), Juan Agudelo (25), Terrence Boyd (27), DeAndre Yedlin (24) and John Anthony Brooks (25).
That crop of youngsters paired with veterans like Michael Bradley (30 years old in 2018), Omar Gonzalez (29), Fabian Johnson (30), Eric Lichaj (29), Matt Besler (31), Graham Zusi (31), Geoff Cameron (32) and Brad Guzan (33) could make the U.S. a very formidable team in Russia.
While Green might not be the savior that U.S. Soccer needs to escape Brasil’s Group of Death this June, he could very well be the catalyst that the USMNT needs to compete with the best countries in the world for the next 10 years.
And that is a very good thing.