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US roster vs. Mexico puts spotlight on Green

AP - Sports

Now that FIFA has approved Julian Green's request to switch his soccer citizenship from German to American, his first chance to show whether he belongs in Brazil could come as early as next week.

On Wednesday, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected the 18-year-old Bayern Munich winger to the 22-man roster for the April 2 exhibition against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz.

While Klinsmann has not promised to put Green on the field, it would not be a surprise if the U.S. coach sought some early impressions of what the talented teenager's prospects are for the World Cup.

Conventional thinking among analysts is that Green won't become a prominent player for the Americans right away, and it is uncertain whether he'll even be taken to Brazil as a reserve this year because he is still relatively inexperienced.

Green made his debut with Bayern Munich in a Champions League game in November. However, he has not played in any of Bayern Munich's Bundesliga games this season, which could explain why the club has granted him a release to play for the U.S. next week. Green was the only American currently playing professionally in Europe who was picked for the roster, with the rest coming from Major League Soccer and Mexico.

Green had been part of Germany's under-19 team before applying for his one-time switch to play for the U.S. He said he didn't take the decision lightly.

''Obviously this was a big decision, and I spent a long time discussing it with my family,'' said Green, who was born in Florida, where his father still lives. ''I have deep roots in the U.S. I'm very proud to be representing the United States.''

Green said his experience practicing with the U.S. team in Frankfurt in early March, during which Clint Dempsey presented Green with a national team jersey, played a big part in his decision.

''The way they supported me gave me a lot of belief,'' Green said. ''The coaches have shown a lot of trust in me, and now I hope to do everything I can to earn a spot on the World Cup roster.''

Were he to make it onto the U.S. roster for Brazil, Green would be unlikely to take playing time from Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson and Eddie Johnson up front, but he has proven himself versatile enough to slide into one of the outside midfield spots.

DOMESTIC DEVELPOMENT: The roster for the game against Mexico will have a decidedly domestic look. The roster includes 19 players from MLS, headlined by Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley, Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman and Dempsey, a Seattle Sounders striker.

Bradley's ball skills and decision-making have been widely credited with helping Toronto start 2-0 for the first time in club history.

Dempsey recently returned stateside after a disappointing stint on loan with Fulham, currently last in England's Premier League. Dempsey already has a goal and an assist in two games with Seattle.

Beckerman also has a goal and an assist for Real Salt Lake.

The only three non-MLS players on the U.S. roster are Green and two defenders from Puebla of the Mexican League: DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco.

The game against Mexico marks the last chance for MLS players to make an impression on Klinsmann before the World Cup preparation camp begins May 14.

Most U.S. team regulars who play professionally in Europe were left off the roster this time because commitments to their professional clubs make it difficult for them to travel to Arizona next week.

ACROSS THE POND: U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard won't play against Mexico as he continues to help Everton turn in a memorable season in the Premier League. The crosstown rival of Liverpool is fifth. On Tuesday, Howard recorded his 11th shutout of the season as Everton defeated Newcastle 3-0.

With eight games left, Everton is in striking distance of a top-four finish and a Champions League berth.

Across the English Channel, Johannsson continues to accumulate valuable European experience. His Dutch club, AZ Alkmaar, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Europa League after wrapping up a 1-0 aggregate victory over Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. Johannsson has 23 goals for AZ Alkmaar overall in the Eredivisie, domestic cup and European tournament.

Meanwhile, American defender Geoff Cameron, who plays for English club Stoke, scored his second Premier League goal of the season in a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa. His goal came at expense of American goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

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