There are few things that get U.S. national team fans excited more than young prospects with ties to Europe, so on the buzz scale, there are few prospects more exciting than Julian Green.
Not because he has enjoyed success on the club level, or youth national team level. Green has captured the imagination of U.S. fans because he is a highly-regarded prospect in Bayern Munich’s youth system. And because he is was born in the United States, thus eligible to play for the USA.
An 18-year-old American at Bayern Munich? More than enough to get the hype train rolling. Throw in an actual U.S. national team call-up, and the talk goes from “Who is Julian Green?” to “How can he help the USA in Brazil?”
Nevermind that he has yet to actually play an official match as a pro. Anybody who gets to train with the best team in the world, and learn from Pep Guardiola must already be better than the current U.S. national team options, right?
Not so fast. To jump the gun on the promising Green is to misunderstand the motivation for Klinsmann to call in such an unproven player.
Klinsmann is playing the long game here. The U.S. coach has already let it be known he would like to coach the USA beyond the 2014 World Cup, so how could he not take the steps to secure the services of a prospect like Green, who could potentially be a key figure on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team (when he would be 21) and 2018 World Cup team?
The key word there is potentially. Green is a speedy bundle of promise with a left foot and the kind of upside that makes scouts drool, but he isn’t there yet, and expecting him to be a factor in eight months on the U.S. World Cup team is extremely speculative.
Green’s call-up for the U.S. team’s November friendlies is less about a potential World Cup wild card and more about a recruiting pitch. Green grew up in Germany, and has played for German Youth national teams, but is far from being a serious national team prospect for the Germans any time soon.
By calling in Green now, Klinsmann sends a message to the teenager that he is highly regarded and a player the USA wants in their system. Green has attended U.S. Under-18 national team camps, but those experiences won’t match having the opportunity to train and be around senior national team veterans, and players who, like Green, grew up in Germany before deciding to play for the USA.
Klinsmann’s current team is his best recruiting tool. He has a plethora of dual nationals who have enjoyed fulfilling and successful stints with the USA, and don’t stop raving about the camaraderie within the team. Who better than a player like Terrence Boyd, or Mix Diskerud or Aron Johannsson, to share their own stories of choosing the USA?
Green’s ties to the USA aren’t exactly non-existent. Along with being born here, and visiting regularly through the years, Green’s father Jerry, an American serviceman, is a proud U.S. national team supporter who makes no secret of his dream of having Julian represent the USA.
Ultimately though, the decision will be Julian’s, and Klinsmann will do what he can to make sure Green’s decision is to play for the USA. Klinsmann has stated repeatedly that the USA can’t afford to lose any more players like they lost Giuseppe Rossi to Italy years ago. He has had an excellent track record at landing some quality dual nationals, most recently Aron Johannsson, who has the look of a star.
Whether or not Green will actually be a star remains to be seen, but being an 18-year-old promising prospect honing his skills at Bayern Munich makes him well worth Klinsmann’s effort. Even if it does lead to a decent amount of premature hype.
CHANDLER’S EXILE ENDING?
Tim Chandler’s last U.S. national team appearance came in the team’s World Cup qualifying loss in Honduras in February, but his long absence from the team could soon end after it emerged that U.S. assistant coach Andi Herzog went to see Chandler play for Nuremberg last Friday.
Chandler recorded an assist in Nuremberg’s 1-1 tie against VfB Stuttgart, playing well in Gertjan Verbeek’s debut as Nuremberg coach. That Chandler played well wasn’t nearly as surprising as the news that Herzog was scouting Chandler, which certainly suggests Klinsmann is ready to bring the right back to the national team’s friendlies in November.
That comes as a slight surprise since Chandler has been a relative outcast since turning down call-up attempts earlier in the year, which led to Klinsmann to stop calling up the 23-year old despite the fact Chandler is one of the USA’s best right back options.
Brad Evans has emerged as Klinsmann’s first-choice right back option in the absence of long-injured veteran Steve Cherundolo, but for as much as Evans has shown promise and improvement at the position, he still isn’t better than an in-form Chandler would be at the position.
The real question is whether Chandler is ready to fully commit to the national team. He has a track record of passing up call-up attempts, most notably for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a tournament the USA might have won if he had been on the team. His decision to skip qualifiers in March with what was reported as a hamstring injury didn’t raise any suspicions, but when Chandler started and played a full 90 minutes in Nuremberg’s first match after that international break it certainly raised some eyebrows.
Having Chandler back in the fold is vital for Klinsmann, who prefers fast attacking fullbacks who can contribute to the attack. Klinsmann hasn’t shown much interest lately in playing Geoff Cameron at right back despite the fact Cameron starts there for Stoke City, and with Michael Parkhurst getting no playing time for German club Augsburg, Klinsmann may be relenting on his Chandler banishment out of necessity.
Klinsmann continues to ignore Eric Lichaj as an option despite Lichaj being the only regular starting American right back in Europe not named Timmy Chandler. Lichaj has been a regular starter for English League Championship side Nottingham Forest, where he has received strong reviews for his play. He has not made an appearance for the USA since the 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final though, and has never been called in by Klinsmann before.
The roster for the November friendlies will tell us a lot. Either Klinsmann will finally give Lichaj a look, or more likely, he will bring Chandler in from the cold.
MLS COACHING CAROUSEL UPDATE
Martin Rennie joined Schellas Hyndman and Frank Klopas on the way out of the MLS coaching circle, parting ways with the Vancouver Whitecaps after having his two-year contract expire without interest in renewing it. That leaves those three jobs, and the Columbus Crew head coaching jobs as the first ones to be open heading into what is shaping up to be a busy off-season in MLS coaching circles.
San Jose’s head coaching job won’t be on that list now that the Earthquakes have reportedly decided to stick with Mark Watson after Watson helped guide San Jose to a strong finish after struggling under former boss Frank Yallop. Watson nearly pushed the Earthquakes into the playoffs, and did help them reach the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
The Crew position is expected to be filled soon, but one name being linked to the job appears to be more smokescreen than reality. Multiple reports have cited Crew owner Anthony Precourt as mentioning Bob Bradley as someone the Crew is interested in talking to about the position, but sources tell Goal that Columbus has not approached Bradley, nor had any discussions with the former U.S. national team and current Egypt boss.
The next coach in line to get the boot? Philadelphia’s John Hackworth has to be considered the next coach most likely to get the boot after the Union missed the playoffs. Whether it is Hackworth being let go, or technical director Rob Vartughian, the Union seem a good bet to shake things up this offseason.