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After saving German club, Green hopes to revive USMNT career

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Julian Green has been the Halley’s Comet of the U.S. national team. He appeared out of nowhere for the 2014 World Cup, scored against Belgium and then pretty much disappeared.

After scoring the goal that saved a German club from relegation to the third division, he’s back with a young American group that has no World Cup to prepare for. And he’s still only 22.

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“It made me much stronger. I’m a different person now. I’m a better player now,” he said Thursday ahead of next week’s exhibition against Bolivia.

Born in Tampa, Florida, Green was 2 when he moved to Germany with his older brother Justin and his German-born mother.

A member of Bayern Munich’s youth system, he was not part of the U.S. pool that qualified for the 2014 World Cup. The winger played for Germany in three qualifiers for the 2014 European Under-19 Championship, then switched to the Americans at the behest of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

He was a surprise pick on the U.S. roster four years ago this week, seemingly to displace Landon Donovan. At 19 the third-youngest player in the World Cup, Green scored in the Americans’ extra-time loss in the round of 16, two minutes after entering. He left Brazil on the list of potential breakout players for the next four-year cycle.

That potential has not yet been fulfilled.

While he played in exhibitions later that year against the Czech Republic and Colombia, his career stalled for club and country. Green was bypassed for the 2015 and 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cups and the 2016 Copa America. His only U.S. appearances were in three friendlies in 2016.

[ MORE: Next USMNT-Mexico date set ]

After Bruce Arena replaced Klinsmann that fall, Green was never brought back. Until now.

“I’m curious just to hear his side of things and see where he’s at,” said interim coach Dave Sarachan, who took over after the U.S. was eliminated with last October’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago.

Green joined Bayern at age 14 and made his first-team debut on Nov. 27, 2013, late in a Champions League match against CSKA Moscow. Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said he expected to keep Green for 2014-15, then reversed course and loaned him to Hamburg. Green made it into just five Bundesliga games that season,

“The coach that wanted me, he gets fired after one week,” Green said. “That was a hard time.”

Green returned to Bayern for 2016-17, and his playing time under coach Carlo Ancelotti was limited to a pair of German Cup matches. He transferred to second-tier Stuttgart in January, had one goal in 10 league games, then was loaned to second-division Greuther Fuerth for 2017-18.

His played regularly, and his career started to revive. On May 13 he scored on a right-footed shot from about 23 yards in a 1-1 draw against Heidenheim, preventing Greuther Fuerth from getting demoted to Germany’s third tier.

“One of the best seasons for me personally,” he said.

He understands why he couldn’t get playing time at Bayern, one of the world’s top clubs.

“At each position there were like three top stars,” he said.

Green started to play a more central role this season, one that could have more of an impact on his team.

“Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, they always told me my best position is in the middle,” Green said. “The first games at Fuerth I started out wide, and then the last games I started in the middle. And for me personally, I think in the middle is a better position.”

Green’s contract with Stuttgart runs through 2018-19, and he’s not sure which club he’ll be with next season. He knows he can’t afford to disappear from the thoughts of coaches on both sides of the Atlantic.

“To his credit, he’s only 22 years old and he’s back here, and he did it by playing his way back in,” U.S. assistant coach John Hackworth said.

If Green becomes a first-division regular, he could become part of the American nucleus for the 2022 World Cup cycle, a roster led by Christian Pulisic that also could include midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, and defender Matt Miazga. Among that quartet, Green is the oldest. He has three goals in eight U.S. appearances and is the only player on this week’s roster with World Cup experience.

“I’d like to see his personality sort of emerge,” Sarachan said. “He’s a quiet kid.”

Green had a hard time believing the U.S. failed to qualify for next month’s World Cup. Given the time difference, he didn’t stay up to watch the match in Trinidad. He figured he’d find out happy news in the morning.

“I took a look at my phone: I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I thought it was a joke.”

Notes: The U.S. will play Mexico in an exhibition on Sept. 11 at Nashville, Tennessee, the second of what likely will be two home matches during the international fixture period.

Wolfsburg beats Kiel 3-1 to boost Bundesliga survival hopes (video)

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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg took a big step toward Bundesliga survival with a 3-1 win over visiting Holstein Kiel in the first leg of a relegation/promotion playoff on Thursday.

Goals from Divock Origi and Josip Brekalo in the first half and another from Yunus Malli in the second put Wolfsburg in a good position ahead of the second leg in Kiel on Monday.

Kingsley Schindler had briefly pulled the visitors level.

[ MORE: France’s loaded World Cup squad]

Kiel had a late penalty appeal when Rafael Czichos, the captain, appeared to be shoved by counterpart Maximilian Arnold, but referee Deniz Aytekin allowed play to continue and there was no intervention from the video referee.

Wolfsburg, which finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga, is playing in its second playoff in as many years. The Volkswagen-backed club defeated Eintracht Braunschweig to stay up last year.

Kiel, the third-place finisher in its first appearance in the second tier since 1981, is bidding to reach the Bundesliga for the first time to cap a remarkable ascent. The northern city club was promoted from the third division last season and from the fourth tier four seasons before that.

VIDEO: Thirsty goalkeeper concedes bizarre goal

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Rule number one for a goalkeeper: always pay attention to the action if you’re going to take a swig from your water bottle in the net.

Duisburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken didn’t pay attention and he will see this clip played over and over again as he conceded a bizarre goal in the German second tier against Ingolstadt.

Take a look at the video below to see the unbelievable scenes as the commentary team sum it up best with  their stunned reaction.


Video: Ex-Sounders defender Joevin Jones scores in 2.Bundesliga debut

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A former Seattle Sounders defender didn’t take long to put his stamp on 2.Bundesliga.

Joevin Jones scored in his Germany debut on Sunday, as his side — Darmstadt — went on to pick up a 1-0 victory over St. Pauli.

[ MORE: Mario Hermoso scores unconventional hat-trick in Espanyol defeat ]

The 26-year-old unleashed a shot from distance in the seventh minute, which found its way into the far corner, and proved to be the difference for his Darmstadt squad.

The Trinidadian joined Darmstadt earlier this month, after signing a pre-contract with the club back in July while Jones was still a member of the Sounders.

Jones and his side currently sit 16th in Germany’s second division, one point buried in the relegation zone.

Kaiserslautern match called off after manager becomes ill

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DARMSTADT, Germany (AP) Kaiserslautern’s game at Darmstadt in the German second division was called off Wednesday after the visiting side’s coach suddenly became ill during the second half and was taken to a hospital.

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German media reported that Kaiserslautern coach Jeff Strasser had suffered a heart attack.

Kaiserslautern gave details no details of Strasser’s condition, confirming only that he had been taken to a hospital.

In a Tweet, Darmstadt said: “Though we love football so much, there are so many more important things in life.”

The match was scoreless when it was called off.