July 3, 2014
By Michael Lewis
BIRTH OF A LEGEND?
Julian Green makes a spectacular, memorable debut for USA
Big Apple Soccer Editor
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- As the curtain was coming down on the United States' latest World Cup adventure, another one was just being raised -- in spectacular fashion.
Brought in as an 11th-hour substitute against Belgium, 19-year-old Julian Green made a memorable debut by scoring on his very first touch in the waning minutes of the 2-1 elimination loss Tuesday night.
Green was a controversial selection to the team because many observers and critics thought that Landon Donovan was left off the squad for him, and that coach Jurgen Klinsmann had promised the promising forward a spot on the squad if he declared he would play for the USA. Klinsmann said that was never the case.
But he put all that behind him by scoring some two minutes after replacing Alejandro Bedoya at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador two minutes into stoppage time of the second extra period.
"Congrats to Julian Green getting his World Cup goal," captain Clint Dempsey said. "He’s another player that has a bright future."
As it turns out, Green has not yet been able to crack the Bayern Munich lineup in the Bundesliga. He has been forced to play on the reserve team. Who knows? Perhaps his late heroics for the Americans will boost him into serious contention for a starting spot. That is the only way he can improve and become a regular force on the U.S. national team.
In his first World Cup appearance, Green made the most of his opportunity, tallying in the 107th minute. Michael Bradley looped a high ball into the area that Green vollied past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. He became the youngest American to play in the Cup, and the youngest to score a goal.
"It was just phenomenal how he came in and scored that goal and gets us back," Klinsmann said.
Green is the son of an American father and a German mother.
"Julian was growing at a very fast speed in the last seven weeks and we guided him through that process," Klinsmann said.
Klinsmann was hoping to use Green earlier in the game, but right back Fabian Johnson (hamstring injury) needed to be replaced and there were some issues at other positions as well. So Klinsmannj said that he delayed Green's entry to the match, "because when you go into extra time you want to make sure you're not making the third sub too early."
"We knew that he was ready. I told him before the game watch the No. 2 (defender Toby Alderweireld), read him, have a specific eye on him and he knew that he might get this chance today," Klinsmann said.
Green was not available for comment in the mixed zone -- the interview area -- after the match.
But he obviously is available for development as a player.
“He's obviously a very promising guy going forward and we'll see a lot more of him,” Klinsmann said. "It's fun to watch that kid grow."