Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore. — Three blocks from Providence Park stands a 40-foot-tall billboard with Julian Green’s likeness on it. That same ad has been on the side of numerous Portland city buses throughout the week.
Despite having lived the majority of his life in Germany, the 19-year-old U.S. international has been the American face of Bayern Munich for the entirety of MLS All-Star week in Portland and Wednesday was no different.
In a pregame ceremony, Green was honored alongside the eight members of the U.S. Men’s National Team who were named to the All-Star roster.
“It was a nice feeling to be out there with these guys and stand there. I’m very happy about it,” Green said.
After the pre-match festivities, Green took his spot on the Bayern bench before coming on as a first-half substitute for Claudio Pizarro. He received a standing ovation from the Rose City crowd and almost made his presence felt immediately, but a 10-yard effort in front of goal was denied by his U.S. teammate Nick Rimando.
While Green said he has scored on Rimando numerous times at practice sessions, he was unable to get past the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper. Despite this, Green believes he hasn’t seen the last of Rimando.
“I will score more goals (against him) in training I think,” Green said.
While Rimando made the save, he said he understood that Green might have been a little rusty after having not played in a match since scoring in Belgium’s 2-1 victory over the U.S. at the World Cup on July 1.
“Julian’s a good player and I think he would like to have that one back,” Rimando said.
Green did not play in Bayern’s 1-0 victory over Chivas Guadalajara on Thursday due to injury concerns. On Wednesday night, however, he played 45 minutes and is already looking ahead.
“I’m feeling good. Of course not at 100 percent, but it’s getting better every day,” Green said.
Next up for the 19-year-old is to return to Germany with Bayern, where there are unlikely to be any billboards bearing his image. Head coach Pep Guardiola said the team will decide shortly whether Green will go on loan this season or stay at Bayern.
No matter what happens, Green will remember his week in the Portland spotlight fondly.
“The fans here are awesome. All the American fans are awesome,” Green said. “It was a very nice to play in front of them. (I’m) very happy to have this chance.”
What did you think of Green’s All-Star performance? Wish he had beaten Rimando? Hoping he goes out on loan or stays with Bayern?
Share your thoughts below.