Julian Green is an 18 year-old soccer prodigy who is the son of an American serviceman and a German mother. He was born in Tampa, Fl and then moved to Germany with his family at the age of two. He signed a contract with German super club Bayern Munich in November and has been the knot in a tug-of-war game between the United States and Germany over his international allegiance since. Finally, after pitches from both countries and an invitation to the US National Team camp in November, Green officially submitted his change in nationality request to FIFA. It was approved, and he is now forever tied to the US.
Seemingly in a response to the decision, Jürgen Klinsmann named Green as one of the 30 players eligible to make the final 23 man roster that Klinsmann would bring to Brazil and the World Cup.
Green represents a lot to the United States Soccer Federation and his case will be looked upon as a precedent moving forward. In international soccer, garnering the commitments of dual national players can mean the difference between winning the World Cup and going out in the group stage. In doing this with Green, the US are proving to players in the future that if the coaching staff believes in them, and really wants them, that choosing the US can mean a trip to the World Cup at a much younger age than otherwise likely.
It’s a political precedent that while dangerous can be incredibly effective. On one hand it is imperative to bring the best 23 players to the World Cup to increase the chances of survival, while on the other, only 11 men are able to play per game leaving many spots on the back end of the bench that can go a long way towards progressing the country’s chances in the future.
Whether Green was guaranteed a spot on the plane in return for his commitment is unknown, but those close to the team believe it was a simple do-for-me, do-for-you transaction. If it’s true, many will complain, and someone worthy will be left off the roster because of this agreement, but it’s what is best for the team’s future.
The experience Green will gain having trained with the team, traveled to a World Cup, and possibly even entered a match at the world’s largest stage is incredibly valuable moving forward in his career.
But there’s one final benefit that cannot be overstated in the possible selection of Green for the final 23. We understand his skill set, but no one knows how it will translate on the international level. The 18-year-old striker has an incredible knack for the game and has speed and quickness that cannot be matched by any one in the American camp. He becomes an option in a situation where known commodities in bench players like Chris Wondolowski, Alejandro Bedoya, or Mix Diskerud won’t fit. Green would provide a spark to any game because no one, including his teammates and coaches, will know what to expect.
Might he fall flat on his face and make his manager look like a fool? Possibly, but could he also come in and make a major difference in a win or wait-four-more-years situation? Yes, and maybe that’s just as likely as the former scenario.
Whether Green goes or not, the United States are probably not going to win the World Cup. So why not send a message to future dual nationals? Why not give a possible future star an opportunity you can’t offer again until 2018? And why not have an ace in the hole when faced with the task of defeating a player like Christiano Ronaldo or soccer superpowers, Germany?
Because it’s going to cost 32 year-old Brad Davis his final shot? Come on, get real America, nothing against Mr. Davis, but sometimes the future has to outweigh the present.
Julian Green is the future, and he has to go to Brazil.