There is a certain 18-year-old’s name that has been on the mind of nearly every USMNT fan over the past few months. He plays for the Champions League champions, the Brutes of Bavaria, the Bayern Munich. And he is American. But when it comes to playing internationally, will he choose the country of his birth or the country that raised him?
Julian Green is facing a situation that is becoming more and more frequent for American players raised or born overseas, and it’s only going to continue as long as America has a military presence around the world. Born in Tampa, Fla., Green was born to an American serviceman father and a German mother, and moved to his mother’s homeland when he was only two years old. What this means, of course, is like many before him, he is eligible to play for either the United States or Germany. But there is a difference between Green and the rest of the foreign-born Americans who have chosen to play for Uncle Sam.
Unlike current German-American players Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones and Terrence Boyd, among many others, Green arguably has the best chance to one day represent Germany regularly at the international level. After scoring 15 goals for Bayern’s reserve team, Green earned his promotion to the first team from back in November, and has been touted as the next big talent to come out of Bayern’s famous youth system.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been monitoring Green for quite some time now, and although the teenager spurned Klinsmann’s initial advances, he is set to train with the stars and stripes before the team’s friendly against Ukraine in March. With the aforementioned Chandler, Johnson and Jones, Green should have few problems integrating into a U.S. team that is becoming increasingly multi-cultural. Green is the type of player the team needs to bring it to the next level, which is why Klinsmann did not give up hope after the youngster refused to commit back in November.
Although Green has only officially played five minutes on Bayern’s left wing during a Champions League matchup with CSKA Moscow, he impressed during the team’s winter training camp in Qatar, and scored impressive goals against Al-Merrikh and Al Kuwait in friendly matches. With the ability to breeze past opponents with ease, and an eye for goal, Bayern’s Sporting Director’s and German National Team head coach Joachim Loew are keeping a keen eye on his development.
Having already represented Germany at U-16, U-17 and U-19 levels, Green also played a single match for the United States U-18s, where he scored one goal against the young Netherlands. At only 18, Green has a lot to learn before he can break the starting 11 of Bayern Munich, or even the U.S. team for that matter. But if he continues with his development, he could become a real star for the American team, and Klinsmann will do well to convince Green that his future lies with the U.S.
Luckily, the experienced German has a good track record when it comes to persuasion, and Green’s decision to come train with the team represents significant progress. Seeing as there is little to no chance that Green will be called up to the German team any time soon, he may be recognizing that he would have a much easier time breaking into the American lineup. Green could one day become a real star for the country of his birth, but to be honest, it is a good thing that he is not willing to rush the decision, as ambition is priceless.