Luring Bayern Munich teenage forward Julian Green to play his international soccer for the United States rather than Germany was a big catch for coach Jurgen Klinsmann, but it’s also one that is probably more about the Americans’ long-term future rather than this year’s World Cup.
Green clearly has talent – he’s being groomed by one of Europe’s major soccer powers – but he’s also still just 18 years old with limited top-level experience on the field and it remains to be seen if Klinsmann will use a critical roster spot on such a raw talent.
“This is one of the biggest talents coming through European football right now,” Klinsmann said in a video statement released by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
“We’re not only looking at Julian for this summer’s World Cup, we’re looking obviously into the future,” such as the 2016 Olympics and the 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann said. “Having his commitment to the U.S. is a huge step.”
The 18-year-old, who was born in Tampa, Fla., played for Germany in three qualifiers for the 2014 European Under-19 Championship, making his debut last Oct. 10 against Belarus and getting assists two days later against Latvia and on Oct. 15 versus Scotland.
German officials also pursued Green.
“We also were in contact with Julian Green,” Germany national team communications director Ralf Kottker told MLSsoccer.com. “But ultimately, it is the personal choice of each individual, as we urge for anyone.”
Green has applied for the one-time switch from Germany to the United States and the USSF hopes it will be approved before an April 2 exhibition against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz. Green already has trained with the U.S. team in Germany before its 2-0 loss to Ukraine this month.
Green also will have a chance to impress Klinsmann at the May training camp before the World Cup. And he doesn’t plan on waiting until the 2016 or later to make his mark.
“I hope to do everything I can to earn a spot on the World Cup roster,” Green said.
Green is just one of several dual-citizen players who have chosen to the play for the United States and Klinsmann envisions more in the future. In the past, top players such as New Jersey’s Giuseppe Rossi (Italy) and Salt Lake City’s Neven Subotic (Serbia) chose to play for other countries.
“It’s a process other nations went through 10-20 years ago,” Klinsmann said. “Now it’s happening more and more with the United States. It gives us a new dimension. I think those players now choose the American side … They see many other opportunities coming. They see their part of the American life in their future. It’s huge and we are thrilled.”
JOHANNSSON’S SCORING MARCH: U.S. national team forward Aron Johannsson kept up his chase of Jozy Altidore’s scoring record by an American for a European club, getting his 25th goal in all competitions with a penalty kick in AZ Alkmaar’s 1-0 win over Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala last week in the first leg of the Europa League’s third round. The teams meet again Thursday with a berth in the quarterfinals at stake.
Altidore scored 31 goals for AZ last season but has just two this season with Sunderland of England’s Premier League and has struggled to stay in the starting lineup. Altidore played the second half in last weekend’s 0-0 tie with Crystal Palace.
CHERUNDOLO FAREWELL: Green’s decision to join the the U.S. national team came a day before long-time U.S. international Steve Cherundolo announced his retirement from soccer.
The 35-year-old Hannover defender first played for the U.S. in 1999 and had 87 appearances with the national team. He had been part of three World Cups and hoped to make a fourth, but chronic knee problems had kept him off the field for all but two games this season.
Cherundolo’s last appearance for the U.S. was in a World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on Oct. 16, 2012, at Kansas City, Kansas/
While Cherundolo’s availability for Brazil would have seemed doubtful, his retirement means just one less option for a U.S. defense hoping for the recovery of injured right back Timothy Chandler.
Chandler, who plays for Nuremberg, had surgery last month to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and coach Gertjan Verbeek said Wednesday that Chandler most likely will miss the rest of the Bundesliga season. Chandler could return in time for the May training camp, but his fitness for the World Cup could be an issue.