Julian Green: A Talented Teen with Ties to the U.S.
Bayern Munich attacker Julian Green has two passports and a ton of potential. ASN contributor Brian Sciaretta tracked down the talented teen and discussed the U.S., Germany, and the coming season.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedWHEN BAYERN MUNICH won the UEFA Champions League in May, it left many pundits predicting that it was the start of a dynasty for the German club. After all, even with winning the world’s most prestigious tournament in club soccer, the team was set to improve with Pep Guardiola taking as coach, and with the €37 million acquisition of Mario Gotze. Such accomplishments and blockbuster deals are hardly surprising for Bayern Munich. As one of the world’s most historically powerful clubs, it has won the German title 23 times, the German Cup 16 times, and has been crowned champions of Europe five times. Last year it won all three titles for an unprecedented treble. What is surprising, however, is that one of the club’s most promising youth players is a talented American striker by the name of Julian Green. The influence of American players in Europe has increased over the past decade but rarely has a player born in the United States shown promise at a club as powerful as Bayern Munich. Green, 18, began this preseason training with the first team and he offered a glimpse of why he was so highly touted. In Pep Guardiola’s first game in charge of Bayern Munich, the team took on a local fan club in Wildenau and won 15-1; Green scored a hat trick. In the team’s second preseason friendly the same weekend, Bayern faced TSV Regen and Green scored another hat trick. After that, the preseason games became more serious. Bayern Munich defeated Brescia 3-0 in Italy and Julian Green came on in the 60th minute. While not scoring, he was very dangerous against the Serie B club. He scored in the fourth friendly, a 6-0 win against SG Sonnenhof Großaspach. He then played the final 10 minutes in the fifth friendly against Hansa Rostock 4-0. “The training was very intensive and we have learned many new things—especially about tactics,” Green told ASN on playing with Bayern Munich's first team. “It was a great chance for me, and really fun. I have enjoyed playing with the older players and working with this great coach every day.” Playing with the likes of Jerome Boateng, Franck Ribery, and Thomas Muller on the best team in the world might seem intimidating to some, but Green has enjoyed the opportunity and fit in with the stars on the team. “It is always something special to be with the first team, but I wouldn´t choose the word ‘nervous’; ‘excited’ would be quite better,” Green explained. “It is a very positive feeling. Most of the older players are cooperative and many of them give support to us, for example Boateng, Alaba, Ribéry, and Muller.” Playing for Guardiola is certainly exciting too. The former Spanish international was noted for his offensive style at Barcelona, and in the preseason Bayern has been playing very attractive soccer. The style has suited Green, who plays either as a forward or as a winger. “It is a great pleasure and honor and it is fun,” Green said of Guardiola. “And yes, it is definitely a change. Pep Guardiola has his own ideas and his own way to structure the trainings sessions. That affects not only the tactics on the pitch, but the organization of the teams and training sessions as well. Actually, I got a short, ‘Very good, Julian,’ after the first trainings session in the Allianz Arena.” To start the year, Green is likely to play mostly with Bayern Munich’s U-23 team (or the reserve team) which competes in Germany’s fourth tier, the Regionalliga. As an 18-year-old, he will likely be one of the team’s youngest players. Green knows that that U-23 level will be a step up, but he is adamant that he is ready for the challenge. As for whether he will play with the first team in meaningful Bundesliga or cup games, Green is reluctant to say. His chances, however, are likely higher with Guardiola who was a proponent of using talented young prospects at Barcelona. “The U-23 players are physically stronger, but I am sure I can handle this,” Green said. “I had a great preseason and I am looking forward to the upcoming season and the new challenge. I am not thinking of what could or should happen next. I just want to perform well and the rest will take care of itself.” GREEN'S PRESEASON SUCCESS at Bayern Munich is a dream come true for the attacker. Born in Tampa, Florida, on June 6, 1995, Green is the son of an American father and a German mother. When he was two years old, he moved to Munich with his mother and older brother. He would, however, maintain strong ties to the United States frequently returning to Florida to visit his father and extended family. “We did a lot of things sports-wise,” said Julian's father, Jerry Green. “Even at the early ages, Julian always had a ball in his hand. From the time he could walk, he would stand with a ball—any kind of ball: football, basketball—it didn’t matter. He used to play hockey and was a great hockey player. He eventually chose soccer.” When Green began to focus on soccer it became sole focus and he began to develop very quickly. He was dominating local youth leagues in Munich and was drawing attention from local media. A scout from Bayern Munich attended one of his games and invited Green to tryout. Green's initial trial at Bayern was a group affair, and he was one of several dozen young teenagers invited on a one-day tryout. Afterward it was a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” arrangement, with the club planning on calling very few, if any, players. After the tryout, Green didn’t immediately hear back from Bayern. He returned to his local youth team and months would pass. He eventually had a similar tryout with 1860 Munich who called Green back immediately. Eventually, however, Bayern Munich called and the 14-year-old Green would become a mainstay with its youth teams. “Ever since he concluded that soccer was his sport, he has concentrated on Bayern Munich,” Jerry Green continued. “That is his dream. I was looking at his room from 2005 and 2006 and he had all the posters of Bayern Munich. What he’s been able to do these past few weeks has been every kid’s dream. The players he’s playing with now are players in those posters. He’s really focused on doing well. He’s a humble kid. There is nothing better for a dad than see his kid realize his dreams and do something he loves.” “Sometimes I think we push our kids too fast,” Jerry Green added. “Obviously there are some kids that are ready for a high level of competition. But in his case, he’s a competitor. I think wherever he ends up playing this year at Bayern, he’ll be ready. He loves the competition and I think he’ll do well. He has a great coach.” Green’s success with Bayern Munich’s youth teams and impressive preseason run with the first team has now brought attention to his international representation. He has both an American and German passport, and through his parents he feels connected to both countries. Green has played for Germany’s youth national teams at the U-15, U-16, and U-17 levels in non-binding friendly competitions. He even scored for the U-16 team. Last September, however, Green was selected by Javier Perez to play for the U.S U-18 team during a series of games in Holland. His debut performance for the United States was against Holland’s U-18 team. Green scored in the 4-2 win. “Playing for a national team and represent a whole country is always a special honor,” Green said. “It was a great experience. I was really proud and enjoyed it very much. I am not thinking about this topic now. I want to focus on the new season with the U-23 and the current challenges.” It was also a special experience for Jerry Green to see his son represent the country where he was born. It left him hoping for further involvement with U.S Soccer. “There are hardly any words to describe how I felt when he played in that game” for the U.S., Jerry Green recalled. “To put emphasis on it, the first game he played for the American team was actually on September 11th. You could not find a prouder father in America that day. I was so proud he was representing the United States. If it were solely up to me, by all means I would love to see him play for the U.S. U-20 team. I would love to see him play for the American national team.” As for his future of playing with the United States, it is unclear at the moment. He was scheduled to play with the U-18s again earlier in 2013 but was forced to withdraw because of an ankle injury. Green was also named to the U.S. U-20 provisional 35-player roster for the U-20 World Cup but was not selected for the World Cup team. None of his appearances for Germany or the United States have been binding since all have come in friendlies. Green is still eligible to play for either country. He is also eligible for the 2015 U-20 World Cup, but Green is adamant that he is not thinking about that at the moment. He has heard from U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos, but it was a while ago. As of now, Green says he is neutral about his international future. “I have no preferences at the moment,” Green said of playing for either the United States or Germany. “Both options would be fine for me. Yes, we have been in contact [with Tab Ramos]. I have met him at my first match for the U-18 team in USA and a second time when he was watching one of my matches for Bayern Munich.” The U.S. U-20 team is prepared to start a new cycle and Jerry Green is hopeful that the relationship develops more quickly than it has in the past. The father believes that his son wants to play for the United States, but that the interest has to be mutual. "I think his connection [to America] is really strong but I also think it is important that U.S. soccer nurtures that,” Jerry Green added. “Not even meet him half way, but maybe just reach out a little more. I think somewhere in his mind he’s probably thinking that I’m over here in Germany and I’m not in the American circuit where I can be seen. In his mind he probably thinks that he’s not in their plans. He certainly has the door open.” "We talk about it from time to time and when we do talk about it," he continued, "I can see it in his face that he absolutely wants to be part of the U.S. team because he has it in him.” As for now, Green remains one of the most exciting American prospects in Europe at what is likely the strongest club in the world. While his international future could go either way, the potential is there for the U.S. team to have an elite prospect within their ranks in the years ahead. Brian Sciaretta is an ASN 100 panelist and contributor. Follow him on Twitter.
July 23, 2013
July 23, 2013