Four years ago, Julian Green was America’s latest teenage soccer phenom.
He rose to incredible heights in an incredibly short time. The Tampa, Fla., native made his senior U.S. national team debut in April 2014 at age 19, and three months later scored a goal at the World Cup.
Green fell off the radar almost as quickly. After growing up at German superpower Bayern Munich, he’s now at second-division club Greuther Fürth. He also disappeared from the national team after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired in late 2016.
But suddenly, Green has returned to the spotlight. He scored a goal on the final day of the German season that saved Greuther Fürth from relegation out of the second division. And a few days later, he got his first national team call-up since Klinsmann’s dismissal.
Here is Julian Green’s spectacular goal from distance giving @kleeblattfuerth a 1-0 lead against Heidenheim in a game they must win to prevent relegation. @J_Green37 #USMNT #Kleeblatt pic.twitter.com/xkf7n21kJr
— Jon Soltz (@jonsoltz) May 13, 2018
“I had a great relationship with Jurgen, but that’s part of soccer,” he said Wednesday. “I never had that feeling that I wouldn’t be called up again or something.”
Asked what playing for Klinsmann was like, Green recalled the German coach’s high standards.
“He always wanted the best from you, and every training session was hard, and he pushed you to the limit,” he said. “I think that’s how it has to be if you want to be a great player, the things that Jurgen was doing. He wanted everything so bad.”
Green could live off that famous goal for a long time, but he has enough on his plate that he doesn’t think much about it.
“It’s four years ago. … The time is flying,” he said. “Right now, the focus will be on the next World Cup, and we want to be there, of course, and that should be the biggest goal for the national team.”
By the “next” World Cup, Green means 2022, not 2018. He had the same reaction as everyone else to the Americans’ failure to make it to this year’s tournament in Russia.
“It was a bad feeling, a very bad feeling,” he said. “First of all, because we didn’t make it, and second, that I couldn’t help the team to probably make it. … I woke up in the morning and I read [the news] and I couldn’t believe it at first.”
Even though he’s still just 22, Green is an elder statesman with the U.S. team that will play Bolivia in Chester at 6:55 p.m. Monday (Fox Sports 1 and UniMás). He’s the only player on the team who has played in a World Cup before. But he likes what he’s seen from the new crop of talent.
“They are all here for a reason, and you can see that on the pitch,” Green said. “It doesn’t matter really how young you are, or how many caps you have.”
But he’s not sure he’d make a great sounding board for advice on life as a pro.
“If you tell anybody to make it like this or this, it’s not possible,” he said. “Everybody has to find his own way and just work hard and enjoy the game, and the rest will come.”