Julian Green's path since his brilliant cameo against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup has been bumpy to say the least. He could not get much game time at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola, then drew praise but just as little time under Carlo Ancelotti.
A move to Stuttgart in the 2.Bundesliga last season seemed to be the perfect chance for Green to develop — he'd drop down a level for a half-season and then end up back in the Bundesliga when the club earned its likely promotion.
Stuttgart did find its way back to the Bundesliga, but unfortunately, Green saw his playing time fade as the season went along. Once the newly-promoted side started league play this season, the 22-year-old attacker was not even in the gameday 18, let alone near the starting XI.
Faced with that difficult situation, Green opted for a season-long loan to Greuther Furth, a team sitting at the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga. He made his debut Friday, going the full 90 in a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Dresden.
Um 18.30 gehts los. Mit dabei die Neuzugänge @J_Green37 & #Aycicek. Ein auf das Spiel und @DynamoDresden. #SGDSGF https://t.co/Ul8fjeW6wz pic.twitter.com/okSRAzd0HV — SpVgg Greuther Fürth (@kleeblattfuerth) September 8, 2017
"I was dissatisfied with my current situation at the VfB and wanted to change it," Green said after the loan was made on transfer deadline day.
While the move certainly has risk — the team is in early trouble — there is also opportunity, no matter the quality of the side. For an example, look no further than Bobby Wood, who was left without playing time at 1860 Munich after issues with the coaching staff in 2014-15 and opted for a January loan to Erzgebirge Aue, one of the worst teams in the 2.Bundesliga that year.
Wood scored three goals in nine games, enough to earn him a shot at Union Berlin the next year. He netted 17 goals there and earned a transfer to Hamburg, and his Bundesliga chance. Last season the striker reportedly drew interest from teams in the Bundesliga and beyond — something that would have seemed unfathomable in January 2015.
That isn’t to say Green’s loan will be as successful as Wood’s half-season at Erzgebirge Aue. But the potential is there to turn it into a springboard for something more — provided he gets playing time.
The flip side is that time is running out for the attacker. He's still young, but at some point potential has to translate into results. Green doesn't need to become the player people dreamed about in the summer of 2014 overnight — it's unrealistic to think he could do so at this point — but a slow steady improvement a la Wood would be encouraging to see.
Likewise, going the full 90 in a game his team got an important result in is a nice start, but Green will need to keep it going and find a way to contribute to the scoresheet, whether as a finisher or as a creator, to finally start to deliver on his promise.
CAMERON INJURED AGAINST MAN UNITED
Geoff Cameron’s Saturday was bittersweet. On one hand, he started Stoke City’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United — a good result given the form of the Red Devils entering the contest.
On the other hand Cameron was substituted at the half with a hamstring injury that may keep him out two weeks.
“I pulled up and felt a sharp zing in my hamstring,” Cameron said in comments published in the Stoke Sentinel. “I tried to continue on and jog off the field and we assessed at halftime. It was too much for me to carry on and too much of a risk.”
He later added: “I was disappointed I couldn’t finish the game but the guys dug in deep and got a point.”
A two-week injury for Cameron would not be too bad — it would put him in line to return in late September. However, any longer and the defender’s status for the U.S. national team’s final World Cup qualifiers, on Oct. 6 against Panama and Oct. 10 against Trinidad and Tobago, would be a question.
Given the U.S. is already without one of its top-choice center backs in John Brooks, Cameron’s injury is something else to watch ahead of vital matches for the team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
One piece of good news on the injury front for the national team was DeAndre Yedlin making his way back into Newcastle’s 18. However, he did play in the club’s 1-0 win over Swansea on Sunday.
WAGNER WINS PL MANAGER OF THE MONTH
David Wagner’s semi-charmed beginning to life in England’s top flight continued last week as the Huddersfield Town boss took home the Premier League’s Manager of the Month award for August.
While there are some who would point to Jose Mourinho’s fast start with Manchester United as more deserving, the truth is it’s hard to argue against Wagner for guiding the newly-promoted side to a pair of wins and a draw in the club’s three August contests, leaving them sixth in the league heading into Monday’s match against West Ham.
“I am happy; it’s an honor for me to receive this award but I would like to take it for the whole club,” Wagner said in comments published to Huddersfield’s club website.
“My players earned the results on the pitch and got a lot of details right.
“I always hoped we would start well but I didn’t expect it; we are happy so far but like I said it’s only a start and we have to stay focused throughout the season.”
The road will undoubtedly get tougher for the German-born Wagner, who earned eight caps for the U.S. national team in the 1990s. Matches against Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Southampton aren’t exactly murderer’s row and we’ll see how his side fares against the league's heavy-hitters later this season.
But points now, against teams expected to be in the relegation scrap along with them, are points that don’t have to be given back later in the year. Wagner and Huddersfield have a chance to continue to grind out results against those sides, facing Leicester City and Burnley after West Ham, before a showdown at the end of the month with Spurs.
START FOR MIAZGA, START WORRYING FOR LICHAJ?
When Matt Miazga returned to Vitesse for a second year on loan from Chelsea, it might have been expected he’d also find his place in the starting XI secure. However, that had not been the case in the season's early going, as Miazga had played just 60 minutes in his first three appearances, all off the bench.
That changed Saturday as Miazga started and went the distance for Vitesse in a 3-0 win over Excelsior, where Americans Shane O’Neill and Desevio Payne were on the bench.
It’s possible his time at the Gold Cup, followed by joining Vitesse not long after, delayed Miazga’s return to the starting lineup. If he can again make himself the fixture he became in the second half of last season, it could go a long way toward helping the defender gain a place in Russia next summer after a solid performance for the national team in his one start at the Gold Cup.
A good run of games in the short term might even garner Miazga a look in October, especially if Cameron is not ready to go.
Another defender who may be facing the opposite situation with regards to playing time is Nottingham Forest fullback Eric Lichaj.
After re-signing with the club following a strong season despite Forest’s near relegation from the Championship, it would have seemed Lichaj’s spot in the XI was secure. But that has not been the case as Tendayi Darikwa has been preferred for all the club’s league games.
Lichaj has made two starts in the League Cup, but has just one substitute appearance in the Championship.
Despite not getting a lot of action, Lichaj was still called in for the September qualifiers over Timmy Chandler. However, Chandler is playing 90 minutes every week — he did so again against Borussia Monchengladbach this weekend — and Lichaj is finding minutes hard to come by.
It’s possible that Lichaj is just preferred to Chandler. But with DeAndre Yedlin on the way back and Graham Zusi probably not jettisoned after one poor game, it will be hard to see Lichaj making an impact in October and beyond if he doesn’t find his way into more consistent playing time soon.
WRIGHT MAKES FIRST START
Julian Green wasn’t the only American getting an opportunity in the 2.Bundesliga this weekend. Haji Wright earned his first league start for Sandhausen, going 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Eintracht Braunschweig.
The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Schalke, won three aerial duels and took three shots in the contest. He didn’t score though, so it remains to be seen if he did enough to keep his place going forward.
One American who continues to shine is Jann-Christopher George. This week he picked up his first assist of the league campaign in a 3-1 win for his side Jahn Regensburg over Heidenheim. The 25-year-old George now has three goals and an assist in five games in the 2.Bundesliga so far this campaign.
A level above, Weston McKennie made his second Bundesliga appearance of the season in Schalke’s 3-1 win over Stuttgart. McKennie went 14 minutes in the victory and earned his second yellow card in as many games — something he may need to work on given he’s played just 25 Bundesliga minutes this season.