An Expert Weighs In On Julian Green, US Soccer’s Best New Prodigy
Today, the US men’s national soccer team is set to play the Czech Republic in their first game since this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. But ahead of the game, our nation’s best young star, Julian Green, made the first major move of his professional career by playing on loan with the Hamburg SV team.
Bayern Munich loaned the 19-year-old Green to fellow German club Hamburg SV over the holiday weekend. It’s a move that will allow Green his first significant opportunity to play in the country’s top division of soccer.
While Bayern loaned Green to help his development as an athlete, there are still so many unknowns about the future of the American prodigy’s career.
So to help provide a clear picture of what’s next for Green, we sought out the expertise of Jonathan Harding, an English journalist covering the Bundesliga and contributor to publications such as Four Four Two and Metro UK, among others.
Elite Daily: For the player himself, how do you rate Julian Green’s loan to Hamburg?
Jonathan Harding: I think it’s a good move. Green played three minutes for Bayern’s first team last year, coming on as a substitute late in a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow.
Other than that, he was only ever in the squad for the FIFA Club World Cup and one Bundesliga game (as well as both so far this season).
Simply put, he is currently just beyond the fringes of the first team. Bayern recognize he has potential, but he must start playing regularly if he is to realize it. Green will learn a lot at Hamburg, but most importantly he will get game time.
ED: In terms of his chances of ‘making it’ — specifically at Bayern — is the move encouraging, considering he could get more playing time, or discouraging, considering the fact that Bayern has deemed him expendable for this particular season?
JH: Bayern has followed the path offered to many promising youngsters by sending Green on loan, and by no means does this equate to the American having no future at the club.
Philipp Lahm went on loan to Stuttgart when he first broke through and he’s now the club captain. Although Toni Kroos has since left (notably to Real Madrid), he flourished during his loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen and David Alaba was sent to Hoffenheim to improve.
Loan moves are an excellent opportunity for young players to gather experience and demonstrate their development to their parent club.
The result of Green’s loan spell will largely be down to how much the American makes of the opportunity. If he excels, then he will return to Bayern with an improved stock and a chance at the first team.
ED: What type of climate will Green be walking into at Hamburg?
JH: The situation at HSV is far from ideal. The traditional and respected club has fallen from grace recently, particularly after their relegation battle last season.
Having survived that scare, this season hasn’t started well either (they have yet to score in two games and have picked up only one point).
While this is a difficult environment for any player to arrive into, Green will be keen to prove he can be a catalyst for a change in fortune. Whatever happens, the experience will develop him as both a player and a person and that can be no bad thing.
ED: Is this type of move conducive to the development of a young player like Green?
JH: Not every loan spell is and it will be interesting to see whether current Hamburg SV coach Mirko Slomka remains in charge for the duration of Green’s spell.
But, as mentioned earlier, Bayern has a good rate of return when it comes to sending players out on loan. Green can only benefit from this spell.
His own determination is evident, and the coaching he receives and his new teammates will also have a bearing on the success of the move.
With the experience of players like Rafael van der Vaart, Rene Adler and Valon Behrami, and in a team with quite a few new faces, Green has a really good chance to take the next step in his development.
ED: When he returns to Bayern Munich next season (2015/16), Green will be 20 years old. What type of picture could he be looking at, in terms of getting on to Bayern’s team?
JH: Before the loan spell and Bayern’s transfer movements next season, it’s difficult to say definitively what role Green will play at Bayern next season.
The most important thing for Green is that he plays. Obviously any 20-year-old would want to stay at a club like Bayern Munich, but if he wants to become the player he looks capable of being then his primary concern must be (and I’m sure is) being on the pitch.
ED: Finally, at age 19, and with all of the above considered, how much can US fans expect of Julian Green at Hamburg this season?
JH: I think they can expect to see him playing more often, that’s for sure! Despite being listed as a left winger, Green also played right midfield, attacking midfield and centre forward for Bayern’s second team last season.
HSV coach Slomka has a preference for a 4-2-3-1 formation and, given Hamburg’s squad, Green can expect to be used on the flanks.
22-year-old striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga is first choice in attack and Green will have a tough time dislodging him. His style of play and slight frame suits a wider role more than a central attacking one, particularly in Hamburg’s current formation.
Make no mistake though, he will face competition out wide as well. Croatian winger Ivo Ilicevic has held down the left for a while, and newly signed Hungarian Zoltan Stieber is probably ahead of Green in the pecking order.
Another new face – Nicolai Müller – appears to be the first choice on the right.
Wherever he plays, Green hasn’t walked into a squad where he will start every game, but, with his pace and the early signs of a goal-scoring instinct developing, he will be given his chance to earn a starting spot at a club in need of quality.
Top Photo Courtesy: Facebook
Jonathan Harding is an expert on all things Fußball. Predominantly a writer for Deutsche Welle, Jonathan has also written and appeared on a number of different websites and shows. You can follow him on Twitter @JonBloggs66.