With the rise of the newest batch of American wonder kids like Christian Pulisic and Jordan Morris capturing the attention of stateside fans over the last couple of months, it’s easy to forget the last player that was considered America’s next great hope: Julian Green. Long ago seems the 21-year-old’s famous goal against Belgium, and I’m sure that some fans have completely forgotten about the Bayern Munich youngster.

Last season, it even seemed like his club even forgot about him, as well. This year, things are finally looking up again for a player that was once the most hyped prospect in American history.

Over the last two seasons, things have been pretty forgettable for Green. Under Pep Guardiola’s reign at the Allianz Arena, the American midfielder made a grand total of two competitive appearances for Bayern. A loan year at Hamburg did little to change that as a reported bad attitude limited him to just five matches, and he even found himself playing with Hamburg’s reserves for a short period of time.

This lack of first team minutes went on to affect his international career with Jürgen Klinsmann excluding the Green from both the 2015 and 2016 CONCACAF Gold Cups. Was he going to follow the path of failed wonder kids before him, and slowly fall into the shadows of competition?

Well, after a very very quiet couple of years, Julian Green finally found himself in the headlines for the right reasons. During Bayern’s preseason tour of the United States, Green managed to start two matches under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. In his second start against Inter Milan in Charlotte, North Carolina, Green apparently rediscovered the form that made him such a hot commodity before the 2014 World Cup, scoring a hat trick in just 35 minutes.

Let’s address the elephant in the room first; yes, this match was just a friendly and in the long run it doesn’t really matter for either team. Regardless, a hat trick is a hat trick, and Inter aren’t exactly a bunch of pushovers. Even better for U.S. and Bayern fans is the fact that Green isn’t letting this preseason success get to his head.

After the match, the midfielder turned striker told reporters, “I scored three goals today, so it’s nice. But tomorrow’s another day and I will keep working hard.”

His strong performance didn’t go unnoticed by the manager, either, as Ancelotti (who is playing without his lead men Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, at the moment) said, “He played well, really well because he scored three goals, he was great in the box. It was a really good performance.”

Even though his preseason has been impressive, it’s unlikely that he’ll manage to get a ton of significant minutes this season with the star power that Bayern have on their roster. Ancelotti wouldn’t go as far as to confirm that Green would be on Bayern’s Bundesliga squad for the upcoming season, and if he finds himself on the wrong side looking in, it’ll be time for yet another loan.

Another season with Bayern’s reserves, or even another season riding the pine won’t do anything to help Green develop, and all of this preseason momentum will go down the drain. A loan, even to a second division side, will hopefully give him the chance to get his feet wet at the senior level, and an extended run of games will help him get used to the physicality of playing at the top level. More importantly for U.S. fans is the fact that if Green is consistently playing, Klinsmann will be more inclined to throw him back on the roster for upcoming friendlies and qualifiers.

Let’s not forget another important fact about Green: he’s just 21. It’s a little premature to label him as a bust when he’s barely had three years of professional experience, and it’s not like it’s a walk in the park to break into Bayern Munich’s first team. I think we need to give Green more time to develop, and hopefully the rise of Pulisic and Morris will take some of the pressure off of him and allow him to focus on getting better every day instead of living up to the lofty expectations that American fans have set for him.

Wow, I just realized that I’m actually older than Green. Julian if you’re ever in Columbia, Missouri, you’re more than welcome to join my intramural team but I can’t guarantee playing time.


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