Trust in Jurgen Klinsmann on display in U.S. soccer’s Julian Green fever


Search Julian Green’s name on Twitter, add a “USMNT” hashtag, and after Tuesday’s announcement from U.S. Soccer, you’ll see a level of excitement that can only be contained by a 140-character limit. If you’re already ensconced in this world, the energy’s probably also hit your Facebook, with corresponding coverage spreading like wild-fire throughout American soccer media. To both U.S. Soccer and national team fans, this is big news; even if, on first blush, it’s not obvious why.

Green is attached to the Bayern Munich brand, though – to the extend somebody who has yet to play a league game can be attached to a team. He’s also bee tearing it up for Bayern Munich II, where he’s scored 15 goals in 21 games this season. Said to have impressed after being invited to March’s national team camp, the now aspiring U.S. international carries enough mystery to tickle both optimism and cynicism.

Right now, with only two minutes of play above the German fourth division, Green is what you want him to be. If you want to see that Bayern pedigree as a sign he deserves special attention, there’s enough product there to do so. Never mind that most of the people generating that excitement haven’t seen enough of his games. There has to be a reason why Bayern not only signed him but are featuring him in their second team. And with Green also seeing time with various German U-level teams, the feeling was not exclusive to München.

But don’t begrudge people their cynicism. In fact, a more cautious approach seems to make sense. The raw numbers look great, and the prospect of fast, dynamic wide presence is tantalizing, yet we have no real idea how performance in Germany’s fourth division translates to the international stage. We don’t know if Green’s goal totals are a result of individual brilliance or his team’s collective talent. Does his 2013-14 reflect a natural ascent, or is blip in his development curve? Ask most fans and writers, they wouldn’t be able to tell you if he’s right- or left-footed.source: AP

The one thing U.S. soccer fans can rely on is Jurgen Klinsmann. On the surface, Green may seem like the latest manifestation of Klinsmann’s fetish: A German player the former Nationalmannscraft star wants to bring into the fold. And ultimately, that may be all Green (right) is, but if he does turn into a player who can made Fabian Johnson or Jermaine Jones-esque contributions, some of that hype will be worth it. Both players switched from Germany to the U.S. Both are sure to start in Brazil.

Green, however, has nowhere near the track record of Jones or Johnson. Or Danny Williams. Or Timmy Chandler. The closest comparison we have to Green is Terrence Boyd, whose acclaim among U.S. soccer’s followers has diminished slightly since his move to Rapid Wien. When he was playing with Borussia Dortmund II, people used that cache to entertain greatness. Now, he’s a valuable squad player on the bubble for Brazil.

The big difference between then two (besides Boyd being much older): Klinsmann seems much higher on Green …

… an optimism has translated to the U.S. fan base. After seeing Klinsmann sift through the U.S. talent pool, bring new players in while casting others aside, the program’s new technical director has built huge credibility with a fan base that was once highly skeptical. It’s not only the success of Johnson or the cultivation of players like Graham Zusi and Eddie Johnson. It’s the results, too. In what many thought would be a transition cycle for the U.S., Klinsmann’s team easily won their final qualifying group, and accomplishment that’s won supporter’s trust.

If Klinsmann had looked at Green, saw nothing, and didn’t pursue him, fans would have said “15 goals in the fourth division obviously aren’t worth that much.” Instead, Green has Klinsmann’s stamp of approach. And in Klinsmann, U.S. Soccer has come to trust.

Green’s inside track to Brazil

When U.S. Soccer distributed their announcement today, they didn’t cut Green’s feelings about this summer. “I hope to do everything I can to earn a spot on the World Cup roster,” he said. Somewhere along the way, he’s been given the impression he has a chance.

Some are already speculating that Green’s been guaranteed a spot. That’s possible, but it’s also not Klinsmann’s style. As much as the coach values competition, he’s unlikely to guarantee Clint Dempsey’s spot, let alone a player who has yet to put on the uniform.

But it’s also likely Green is very close, close enough that Klinsmann convinced him to switch. Three months from Brazil, Klinsmann already has a full depth chart laid out, one he wouldn’t disrupt without reason. If Green wasn’t going to be a meaningful part of that picture, Klinsmann could have put off his full court press until the fall.

From the player’s point of view, this change could have happened at any time. The only reason to rush a decision is if a delay would cost him a spot at the World Cup. That’s likely the picture Klinsmann painted ahead of this filing.

Green is probably not a lock for Brazil, but he may now have to play his way out of a spot. With Brek Shea struggling in England, Green may be the player most likely to join Alejandro Bedoya as wide options off Klinsmann’s bench this summer.

Defoe: Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore reminds me of Gareth Bale

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on November 23, 2015 in London, England.
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Duncan Watmore is highly regarded at Sunderland, as the 21-year-old was rewarded with a new four-year contract with the club earlier this week.

While the club has high hopes for the young winger, his teammates are taking notice as well.

[ MORE: Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Watmore’s teammate Jermain Defoe, a seasoned veteran who knows all about succeeding in the Premier League, praised the 21-year-old’s play, comparing him to one of his former teammates at Tottenham, Gareth Bale.

In a funny way he reminds me of Gareth [Bale]. When he came on the scene at Tottenham, he used to just get the ball and glide.

He’s such a nice boy, I don’t think he’s bothered about signing new contracts and stuff, all he wants to do is play football and do well for the club.

If he can go on to do what Gareth has done then he’ll be fantastic. He’s the future of this club.

That’s quite the comparison, as Watmore has only made six Premier League appearances in his young career. Bale was twice named the Premier League Player of the Year before being sold to Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee in 2013.

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While it’s a bit too soon to be calling Watmore the next Gareth Bale, there’s no denying he could be a huge talent for Sunderland. After coming on as a substitute in the Black Cats’ win over Crystal Palace on Monday, Watmore showed his speed and willingness to run at defenders, something the club is in desperate need of. He made his debut for the England U21 side this fall, which shows his form has impressed many outside of just the North East.

After starting his career in the Manchester United youth setup, Watmore was released and played with non-league side Altrincham before signing with Sunderland in 2013. He scored 11 goals in 18 appearances last year with the U21 side, being named the Under 21 Premier League Player of the Season.

Five Premier League players make UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with his team mate Sergio Aguero (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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UEFA has released the 40-man shortlist for the 2015 Team of the Year, with five Premier League players making the cut.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is on the list after being named the Premier League Player of the Year last season, as is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester City accounts for the other three players, as Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected. However, De Bruyne makes the list mainly based off his play for Wolfsburg last season.

Three teams have more players selected than the entire Premier League combined. Barcelona leads the list with eight players, while Bayern Munich and Juventus each have six.

[ MORE: FIFA Ethics Committee seeks lifetime ban for Sepp Blatter ]

Cristiano Ronaldo already has the most appearances on the final list with nine, and is looking to make his ninth consecutive Team of the Year. No other player has been selected more than six times since the beginning of the award, which was started in 2001.

Below is the complete 40-man shortlist.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Denys Boyko (Dnipro).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), David Luiz (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

New York Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch voted MLS Coach of the Year

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch has been voted Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year, the first to earn the honor in the two-decade history of the New York team.

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The Red Bulls went a league-best 18-10-6 in Marsch’s first season after replacing Mike Petke, winning 14 of their last 20 games with one tie. They trail Columbus 2-0 going into Sunday’s second leg of their Eastern Conference final.

MLS said Tuesday that from combined team, media and player votes, Marsch received a weighted total of 152 out of a possible 300.

Dallas’ Oscar Pareja was second with 91 and Vancouver’s Carl Robinson third with 24.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.