One year ago, Julian Green wasn’t a name most U.S. soccer fans had even heard, let alone thought would contribute at the upcoming World Cup.
Coming off a good season with the Bayern Munich U-19 team, the Florida-born 18-year-old was promoted to the Bayern reserve side for the 2013-14 season.
Things started to take off from there, and quickly. It all started to really happen in November 2013.
First, after a hot start with the Bayern reserve team, Green signed a professional contract to stay at the club until 2017. His first-team debut came in a Champions League match at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, U.S. Soccer had started to close in on the Florida-born prospect.
“The first call was in [November], there was a game against Austria and Scotland but I didn’t go to this game because I wasn’t sure if I was going to play for the U.S. or Germany,” Green told Goal USA.
By this time, Green’s international future was a hot topic in the USA. His refusal to play in the two November friendlies and appearances for Germany’s U-19 in October didn’t portend well for him ever wearing the Stars and Stripes.
But the U.S. had its top salesman on the case.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who had already successfully converted the likes of John Brooks and Aron Johannsson to the United States, had his next target. And he wasn’t going to let him get away.
“Klinsmann always called me and asked how I was doing,” Green said. “I was happy that he called me and I wanted to hear what his plans were with me. Every time he called it was a good conversation and we talked very well.”
Those conversations continued up to February, when Klinsmann convinced Green to join up with the U.S. as it prepared for a friendly against Ukraine. Green was just testing the waters – he didn’t file the one-time switch necessary to play versus Ukraine.
But as the team prepared for Ukraine at its training camp in Frankfurt, Germany, Green was convinced.
“It was the camp in Frankfurt when I was practicing with the team I was sure to play for the U.S.” Green said. “It was the first time I was thinking about everything with the national team.”
Just weeks later it was official: Green filed his one-time switch through FIFA. He was permanently a U.S. national team player. His USA debut would come against Mexico in an April friendly.
|U.S. SOCCER LATEST
“After my first game against Mexico I was sure that I had a chance to play at the World Cup,” Green said. “I was working hard to get on the team.”
Green was a controversial selection on the U.S. World Cup team, making the roster ahead of, among others, USA legend Landon Donovan.
But as many are learning, Green isn’t one to be written off.
Just minutes after his World Cup debut, the 19-year-old scored against Belgium in the round of 16, making him the USA’s youngest ever World Cup goalscorer.
“I waited for my chance,” Green said. “After that goal it was awesome, it was a very nice moment to score in a World Cup for the country you play for. It was one of the highlights of my career. “
The U.S. ended up falling to Belgium, knocking Klinsmann’s team out of the World Cup. Green was still proud of his team’s effort in Brazil, however.
"Nobody believed that we can go out of this group, so it was very special to get to the last 16,” Green said. “We didn’t win against Belgium but I think we did a good job at the World Cup.
“Our goal was to win against Belgium and go as far as possible, but that’s soccer and I think we have a very good future and everybody saw that American soccer is growing.”
Just a year ago, he was an unknown. Now, Green is set to be a cornerstone of American soccer’s future.