The Case for Julian Green’s USMNT Return

Once a bonafide wunderkind, Julian Green hasn’t seen action for the USMNT since 2018. But the World Cup scorer has been playing exceptionally well for Greuther Fürth as of late, and is more than deserving of call-up consideration.

It’s been almost a decade since a teenaged Julian Green scored a vital extra-time goal against Belgium in the round of 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. On that day, Green became the youngest World Cup goalscorer in United States men’s national team history, and while Jürgen Klinsmann’s outmatched side were only in the game thanks to goalkeeper Tim Howard’s heroics, Green’s goal showcased what was to come for the U.S. program with the then-Bayern Munich prodigy.

julian green usmnt

Things did not go according to plan following the World Cup, however. Green never saw the field for Bayern, loan moves to Hamburger SV and VfB Stuttgart were colossal disappointments, and while Christian Pulisic and his “Golden Generation” teammates began making a breakthrough in European club soccer, Green had seemingly vanished off the face of the Earth.

In desperate need to revitalize his once promising career, Green moved to 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Fürth and found what so few Americans before him had in European soccer: consistency. So much so that while U.S. Soccer and Gregg Berhalter have forgotten about Green, those who continue to follow his career still think he could be a contributor to the current roster.

Finding a Home

Since joining Greuther Fürth in 2018, Green has been a consistent starter, amassing an impressive 33 goals and 18 assists in 188 matches. Some of Green’s goals still show flashes of his younger self, which has many asking: Why hasn’t he been called up?

At 28, Green is now a well-conditioned veteran, and while the 2. Bundesliga is not the Premier League, La Liga, or Serie A, it’s still a league that provides a better level than many other European leagues or Major League Soccer.

In his seven seasons at Greuther Fürth, Green has also slid into a more central and defensive midfield role, playing nine of his last 19 games as a pivot. This season, Green has four goals and seven assists in 21 games, starting in all of them. The now central passing midfielder has a Fotmob average rating of 7.29.

In a recent ESPN interview in 2023, the once big-time USMNT prodigy stated he felt he still has something to offer to the United States.

A Tough Hill to Climb

Today, the thought that Green can get back to the national team is a distant one. First, it would seem that Berhalter has no interest in calling up a player who can play multiple positions and has proven over the last seven years to be durable.

Additionally, the Yanks are loaded with midfield talent. Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams (when healthy), and an emergent Johnny Cardoso have solidified themselves as A-roster locks, which puts Green with a pool of bubble players that include Luca de La Torre, Lennard Maloney, Tanner Tessmann, and Gianluca Busio.

If you look towards the wing, a position Green has historically played for the USMNT, aside from Pulisic or Gio Reyna, Green might have a shot behind Malik Tillman and Tim Weah. With injuries to Taylor Booth and underwhelming club form from Brenden and Paxten Aaronson, Green’s versatility can be a huge asset in a tournament like Copa America.

What Green has going for him is his numbers. While four goals in 15 caps might seem modest, he has scored in every year that he was called into a U.S. camp in 2014, 2016, and 2018.

His most recent goal for the U.S. was against France in a 1-1 draw in Paris on June 9, 2018, just before the French side would go on to win the World Cup. Green can boast a key goal against the golden generation of Belgium, and finishes his friendly goals stats against Cuba and New Zealand.

Once thought of as Klinsmann’s project, it’s been nearly 10 years since Green jumped on the scene and “stole” Landon Donovan’s place on the 2014 World Cup roster. Since then, he has carved a favorable career for himself in Europe and done it in a consistent manner rarely seen amongst Americans across the pond.

Green showed his quality in a U.S. team that had nowhere near the level of players the current national team has now. Seeing Green link up with Weah, Pulisic, or Reyna to feed a Ricardo Pepi or Josh Sargent could be very interesting.

Green is praised for not losing the ball much at the club level, and if there is one thing the U.S. always needs is good passing. So ahead of this summer’s packed international schedule, it would be great to see Green make his return in a USMNT kit. It may be a long shot, but don’t count him out.

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