Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com
By RYAN TOLMICH
With just one professional appearance to his name prior to joining up with the U.S. Men’s National Team, Julian Green was always going to have to play a bit of catch-up with both his more experienced teammates and the opposition.
Despite his status as the team’s heir apparent, Green’s limited minutes for both club and country provide little answers to what exactly the U.S. has on their hands in the present time. At times, Green displays flashes of pace and technique that make viewers salivate at what could be. But in other moments, Green shows himself to be exactly what he is: an 18-year-old still adjusting to playing to the game at the highest level.
For U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Green’s skill-set provides a benefit to the current team as it stands. However, the former Germany striker also understands how much he is asking from a player who is still in his teenage years.
“I think he has his sparks,” Klinsmann said after Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Turkey in which Green played 27 minutes off the bench. “We see that now in training. For him, that workload that we did those first two weeks was a lot for an 18-19 year old boy. We see that, but in every session now he gets fresher and fresher.”
Though he is a rookie on the field with seasoned veterans, Klinsmann has found positives in Green’s performances, including once sequence Saturday that saw Green nearly earn a penalty.
“His body language gets stronger, so he’s getting there to take people on,” Klinsmann said. “Not talking about the referee now, it’s a friendly game, but he drew a clear penalty again like he did against Mexico. That’s two goals, theoretically, if they give that, so he’s coming along.”
Regardless of his on-field performance, Klinsmann is most impressed with Green’s off-the-field adjustments. The U.S. head coach pointed out that Green’s acclimation to the U.S. Soccer environment has been just as important for the young German-American as his on-the-field play.
“You see him,” Klinsmann said describing Green. “He’s connected with the guys and he feels more and more part of it. It’s exciting.”