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

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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 …

[tweet https://twitter.com/J_Klinsmann/statuses/446035584792805376 width=”400″ align=”center”]

… 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.

Report: Fellaini eyes MLS, China after shooting down Man United terms

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Marouane Fellaini‘s time in Manchester looks to be numbered, and a move abroad could have the Belgian in line for one last payday during his career.

The Manchester United midfielder has rejected multiple offers to stay on at Old Trafford ahead of his contract expiring this summer, which would allow Fellaini to pursue other opportunities come June.

Fellaini is being linked to moves to Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, as the veteran aims to secure a sizable contract upon leaving the Red Devils after over five-and-a-half years with the club.

The Daily Mail is also reporting that Fellaini would be open to hearing options that could keep him in the Premier League, although it is unclear if there is any serious interest from English sides at this time.

Since the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, Fellaini has struggled to find playing time under manager Jose Mourinho.

This season, the Belgium international has appeared in just 14 PL matches and 19 in all competitions. Fellaini has scored four goals in that span.

Chicago Fire venue to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium

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The Chicago Fire won’t be moving into a new stadium 2019, however, their venue will have a new name donned on the side of it.

For years, the Eastern Conference side has played its home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, but starting next season the Fire’s home turf will be called SeatGeek Stadium as part of a rebrand.

SeatGeek is one of the largest online after-market ticket distributors, and was created back in 2009.

Toyota Park will undergo its transformation at the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.

The venue is also home to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.

MLS at Week 8: Galaxy host Atlanta, NYCFC aims to stay unbeaten out west

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A full weekend of MLS action kicks off on Friday night with two of the Western Conference’s elite, while Saturday and Sunday feature a number of quality matchups.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy have been quite the attraction since the Swede made his move to MLS a few weeks ago, but Sigi Schmid’s side will be in for another early-season test on Saturday when they take on a red-hot Atlanta United.

[ MORE: Sweden not keen on Zlatan’s World Cup return ]

Both sides currently sit in second place in their respective conferences, while Atlanta boasts the second-highest goalscoring total in the league to this point, with 15 goals in six games.

Western Conference leaders Sporting KC have gone unbeaten in their last six matches since their opening day defeat to New York City FC, and Matt Besler and Co. will have another opportunity to put their stamp on the conference with a crucial match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who sit third in the West.

NYCFC and FC Dallas remain on the only two unbeaten clubs left in 2018, although the latter has been far less convincing in its first five matches.

Patrick Vieira and NYCFC are coming off of a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Atlanta last weekend, and now head west to take on the Portland Timbers.

Meanwhile, Dallas plays host to the Philadelphia Union, who have taken just one win out of their first five games.

Here’s a look at the full slate of matches around MLS in Week 8.

Friday

Sporting KC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 9 p.m. ET

Saturday

Montreal Impact vs. Los Angeles FC — 1 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC — 3 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire — 3:30 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids — 9 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. Atlanta United — 10:30 p.m. ET

Sunday

Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 4 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers vs. New York City FC — 6 p.m. ET

Atletico defeat leaves Barcelona 1 win from title

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid lost 3-0 at Real Sociedad on Thursday, leaving Barcelona one victory away from clinching the Spanish league title.

Barcelona, which drew 2-2 at Celta Vigo on Tuesday without most of its regular starters, can secure its 25th crown at Deportivo La Coruna on April 29.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Burnley, trails Spurs by five points in UCL race ]

The Catalan club faces Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

Barcelona has a 12-point lead over Atletico, with five matches left, and is 15 in front of third-place Real Madrid, which needed a late goal by Cristiano Ronaldo to draw 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Another loss for Atletico on Sunday against Real Betis would leave Diego Simeone’s team out of contention for the title because Barcelona holds the head-to-head advantage between the clubs.

Willian Jose shot Sociedad ahead in the 27th minute at the Anoeta Stadium. Juanmi Jimenez made it 2-0 in the 80th after a perfect backheel from Jose before Jimenez scored again with an injury-time header.

It was a third straight win for Sociedad, which stayed 11th in the standings. Atletico hadn’t lost in three consecutive league matches.

GIRONA WINS

Girona ended a four-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Alaves, staying in contention for a Europa League spot next season.

Aleix Garcia opened the scoring for Girona in the 59th minute and Cristhian Stuani added a penalty in the 86th, moving the team within one point of seventh-place Sevilla.

Tomas Pina struck in the 90th minute for Alaves, which is 15th.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni