It has been an important year for Greuther Furth and U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Julian Green and he is now aiming to take the club to new heights this season.
Green is currently in his third season with Furth and looking to help the club achieve a tough goal of getting back to the top flight. The 25-year-old signed a new two-year contract with the club in June, ending speculation that he might leave for a new challenge in the summer.
Furth missed out on the promotion places, finishing ninth in the 2. Bundesliga table despite a strong start to the season. After falling short in his hopes of a return to the topflight, Green is eager to see this current group dust themselves off and fight again to achieve its main goal, returning the club to the Bundesliga for the first time since the 2012-2013 season.
“We improved a lot over the time I’ve been here,” Green told SBI. “When I think about when I first came to Furth to now, I think we’ve gotten a lot better and more competitive. Last season we played well, but at the end it wasn’t enough for promotion. After the COVID break we didn’t play as well as we did before in the season, but I see so much potential in this group and I think we can show it this season.”
“I was very happy to get the new contract because I feel very comfortable here at Furth. It’s the most important thing for a player that you enjoy the club you are at and that is how it is for me. I am happy with the new contract and I am excited to see how continue to show that great potential I spoke about before. My goal is to help us reach our potential.”
After a 4-5 week layoff for vacation, Green and his Furth teammates are back in action in hopes of reaching its goals this season. Furth advanced in the German DFB Pokal with Green getting on the scoresheet in an 6-1 extra time win over Meinerzhagen. He also scored twice in a friendly win over Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach while starting in two of the opening three league matches so far.
Green missed time through injury last season, but has remained available for Stefan Leitl’s side in the early stages of the new campaign. Results haven’t gone the way that Green had hoped, but will hope to play in every game and help the club aim for three points.
“It’s always good to get off to a good start,” Green said. “Preseason was definitely important for me because before the COVID break I had an injury so I wasn’t 100% fit. I played every game, I trained in every session. Right now my body feels perfect and that is the most important thing right now.
“I’ve played in the first three games and I feel we could’ve won the first two games because we played very well, but only got a draw in each,” Green said. “The third game wasn’t as good as the first two, but we will continue to work to get better.”
When Green first came to Germany with Bayern Munich, he traditionally played on the wing for the Bundesliga giants. Now he has developed himself into an all-around midfielder, seeing minutes at the No. 10, No. 8, and even No. 6 for Furth. Green can still feature on the wing if needed, but admits he is more effective elsewhere on the pitch.
“I think the best position for me in centrally.” Green said. “That is the position I started to play at Furth and that’s also why I feel it has been a good time for me. The earlier years and sometimes with the USMNT I played on the wings, but I enjoy being in the center of the field more. It’s good to be able to play a lot of different positions, but overall I think I am most effective in the middle.”
“You can always get better in every situation. I think especially in the German second division you want to be able to defend well and play hard. I think that is also the difference between the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga, the second division is more physical. I knew I had to make my defense better and I feel I have done that, but I always wanted to continue getting better technically with the ball.”
Green has made 15 appearances for the USMNT, but has not featured yet under Gregg Berhalter. Seven of his 15 appearances came in 2018 under USMNT interim head coach Dave Sarachan, with his fourth career international goal coming in a 1-1 draw with eventual World Cup winners France.
While many younger options in the USMNT player pool are continuing to develop in higher divisions, Green’s consistency in Germany has kept him in the national team conversation, though the wait for a return to the national team fold hasn’t been an easy one.
“I don’t think frustrating is the right word because I always want to achieve the best in my career,” Green said. “One of those goals is to play for the National Team. I will do everything to be back with the team and thats what motivates me to get better every day.”
“I hope I get a chance again to be there because that’s what I am working on everyday. Right now though there aren’t any games internationally or not as many so I focus on Furth and helping the team here and improve my game. I am sure good things will happen if I put in good performances.”
Outside of staying in top shape, Green made sure to keep tabs on the NHL Playoffs as his favorite team, the Tampa Bay Lightning won its second-ever Stanley Cup. Green grew up in Tampa and still visits when he can, but made sure to check the playoffs every day to see how his favorite team was doing.
The Lighting outlasted the Dallas Stars in Edmonton to return to the top of the NHL summit, allowing Green to reminisce on his past days of playing the sport and attending Lightning home games.
“I think I am one of the biggest fans of the team,” Green laughed. “I didn’t get to see every game because of the time difference, but sometimes it was hard to fall asleep at night in the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup because I knew they were playing. In the morning I normally watched the highlights or checked the stats, but I am very happy for them because I felt they had the best team.
“I played hockey starting as at 4-5 years old and played for 6-7 years. I had to decide on whether to stay with hockey or go with soccer. I chose Soccer, but I still love the sport and continue to play whenever I get the chance to at home. I remember going to the 2004 Playoffs for the Lightning and they ended up winning their first Stanley Cup that year so it was pretty special.”
Greuther Furth continues its busy league schedule on Saturday against promotion favorites Hamburg before also taking on Holstein Kiel and Hannover in respective matches after. After not picking up a victory yet in league play, Green knows the importance of a victory in any of the club’s next three matches and how it can kickstart the club into a positive string of results.
“I think you always have to set big goals for yourself and for the team,” Green said. “There are big teams in this division (Hamburg, Hannover, Fortuna Dusseldorf), but I think in this league anything can happen. We have a lot of potential in our team and we have good players. At the end we will see what we can do.”
“It would be the biggest goal to get Furth back into the Bundesliga, the last time that happened was 2012. We know it’s a hard goal, but we have to focus on every game and we will see where it ends. It’s hard to say what can happen off three games so far, but our goals remain to win every game we are on the field.”