AP Photo/Matt Rourke

After saving German club, Green hopes to revive USMNT career

Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: Commisso “hopeful” of $500m USSF deal ]

“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.

Who would’ve made the USMNT’s 23-man World Cup squad?

AP Photo/Pedro Rocha
2 Comments

The United States men’s national team flamed out of World Cup qualifying with a humiliating loss to Trinidad and Tobago’s B Team, and won’t be participating in Russia this summer.

Every Mexico, Costa Rica, or Panama match will have us imagining the USMNT in their spots a summer after we were spared endless posts about which American player’s form was either costing them a place in Russia or lifting them into the discussion.

[ MORE: Atleti wins Europa League ]

But what if it didn’t? What if, like so 32 other nations, we were about to learn the names of the 23 men set to hit the World Cup pitch?

Spoiler alert: It’s difficult, especially because we’ve conditioned ourselves to the new reality of aiming for 2022.

Keeping in mind, of course, that Bruce Arena might’ve given DNA tests to see which U.S. players bled the truest American blood in some sort of modern day Bill the Butcher moment, and that the players would’ve responded differently to knowing Russia was an option, we go to a place of fair evaluation now (This isn’t saying it’s the side I’d choose, but the one I figure would be chosen by your typical U.S. manager).

Goalkeepers (3)
Tim Howard, Colorado
Brad Guzan, Atlanta United
Zack Steffen, Columbus Crew

The manager would opt to stay with the crew that got him to Russia, but bring Steffen over Bill Hamid and Ethan Horvath due to regular playing time.

Defenders (8)
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City
John Brooks, Wolfsburg
Matt Miazga, Vitesse (on loan from Chelsea)
DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
Tim Ream, Fulham
Eric Lichaj, Nottingham Forest
Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt
Antonee Robinson, Bolton (on loan from Everton)

The first five are easy peasy, but it’s all questions after that. Young fullbacks Robinson and Shaq Moore (Levante) seem worth the shout, but veterans Graham Zusi or Matt Besler might get a shout. Our guess is someone out wide, with a youngster getting the call over Zusi.

Midfielders (8)
Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund
Weston McKennie, Schalke
Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
Kenny Saief, Anderlecht
Paul Arriola, DC United
Tyler Adams, New York Red Bulls
Darlington Nagbe, Atlanta United
Ale Bedoya, Philadelphia Union

Injuries keep Danny Williams and Kellyn Acosta from claiming spots in Russia, while the Red Bulls’ Sean Davis is a victim of the numbers game.

Forwards (4)
Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC
Bobby Wood, Hamburg
Clint Dempsey, Seattle
Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

Given the option of bringing PSG’s Tim Weah or Telstar’s Andriya Novakovich, the manager brings Clint Dempsey for experience and Zardes on form. Weah also could’ve claimed Adams’, Robinson’s or Bedoya’s place. Aron Johannsson might’ve made the club had Dempsey been out of the picture. Hard to know.

U.S. players in the 2017-18 Premier League

Daniel Hambury/PA via AP
3 Comments

This post used to be more fun.

[ RECAP: Villa 0-0 (1-0 agg.) Boro ]

The United States only had three players hit Premier League pitches for more than a single match this season, and only two Americans are alive for promotion from the Championship (though well-traveled goalkeeper Chris Konopka signed a short-term deal late in Cardiff City’s promotion campaign).

Geoff Cameron
Stoke City

The soon-to-be 33-year-old had to be frustrated when his return from a concussion ended up with a stint on the bench under new coach Paul Lambert that cost him a chance to keep the Potters in the Premier League. Cameron played 20 league matches and one FA Cup match, spending time at center back, center mid, right back, and even a little more advanced as a right mid. Stoke was 3W-6D-8L when Cameron did not play, about the same pace as when he was available, but it notably earned points in four of six matches where he featured at center back (2-2-2). It seems likely he’ll move on this summer.

Cameron Carter-Vickers
Tottenham Hotspur

Went on loan to Sheffield United and then Ipswich Town, where he played regularly at center back. Still doesn’t seem on track to get in Mauricio Pochettino‘s mix, and another loan or permanent transfer feels on the horizon.

Emerson Hyndman
Bournemouth

The 22-year-old center mid played just four times in all comps for the Cherries, but Eddie Howe handed him a start in Bournemouth’s season finale. The Cherries won 2-1, though both goals came after he left the match. A candidate for transfer or loan next season.

Antonee Robinson
Everton

Went on loan to Bolton, where he managed four assists in substantial time at left back and left mid as the Trotters survived in the Championship. One of the great hopes to solve the long-held American need at left back.

Danny Williams
Huddersfield Town

There was a third very impactful American in the Premier League this year, and Huddersfield Town will be thankful that David Wagner brought fellow German-American international Williams to Town.

The 29-year-old played 20 league games and three Cup games with the Terriers, and was noticeably strong in his first season of top flight English football. Granted two of the wins came in substitute appearances, one at right back, but the center mid was good.

Terriers w/ Williams:  7W-5D-10L
Terriers w/o Williams: 2W-5D-9L

DeAndre Yedlin
Newcastle United

Soon to be 25, Yedlin had a strong return to the Premier League. The right back picked up two assists in 34 matches as Rafa Benitez really improved the American’s defensive acumen. Benitez would probably like to bring in better competition for Yedlin at right back, but the former Seattle Sounder should have every opportunity to continue to play a sizable role at St. James’ Park.

Elsewhere in England
Mix Diskerud – Man City (on loan at Goteborg)
Luca de la Torre – Fulham
Lynden Gooch – Sunderland
Duane Holmes – Scunthorpe United
Eric Lichaj – Nottingham Forest
Brendan Moore – Rochdale
Tim Ream – Fulham
Gedion Zelalem – Arsenal

American owner Short writes off Sunderland debt, sells club

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes.

Relegated in consecutive seasons, troubled club Sunderland announced the departure of manager Chris Coleman on Sunday.

[ MORE: Celtic clinches crown vs. Rangers ]

Minutes later, it announced a change in ownership, hopefully solving a club crisis.

Embattled American owner Ellis Short is leaving the Northeast England club now headed to League One on the heels of a 20th place finish in the Football League Championship.

Short has sold the team to Stewart Donald, and says he has paid off the debts of the club while rejecting higher paying offers in favor of the best one for the direction of Sunderland.

For all the rough times and damage done to the club, those are class gestures. Here is Short’s statement, via the Sunderland site:

“It is no secret that I have been trying to sell Sunderland, but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be.

“Overall, my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons. I was therefore determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner. To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected, and I have paid off all debts owed by the club to leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”

“Assuming that Stewart and his group win EFL approval, it only remains for me to wish them, and all associated with the club, the very best for the future. I will be a Sunderland fan for life, and hope to return as a fan to watch them climb back to where they belong.”

Donald will be the new owner, once approved by the English Football League, and will relinquish control of the current club he owns: Eastleigh FC. The Chronicle says he also has a stake in Oxford United of League One.

Donald has experience with righting a debt-ridden ship, having done the trick at Eastleigh. He hopes that serves him well:

“Eastleigh and Oxford are different cases to each other and, of course, smaller than Sunderland. The similarity, though, is that there is also a lot that needs to be addressed here, and it needs to be addressed with realism, focus and dedication. For a club with one of the best fanbases, stadium and academies in the UK to find itself in League One is unacceptable.

“We have a carefully thought-through plan to restructure the club, make it sustainable and, with the help of the fans, to restore its sense of pride and re-connect it with the local community. In short, we are rolling our sleeves up to do what needs to be done to ready this club to start competing again.”

Good luck to Sunderland. It’s been a brutal run, as it was just two years ago fans were flying banners over Newcastle’s stadium when the rivals were relegated.

Levante wins to virtually escape relegation in Spain

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Levante defeated Sevilla 2-1 in the Spanish league on Friday, practically securing its spot in the first division next season.

Levante opened a 12-point gap to the first team inside the relegation zone, Clarence Seedorf’s Deportivo La Coruna, which hosts leader Barcelona on Sunday.

[ MORE: Emery leaving PSG ]

There will be three matches left after this weekend’s matches.

Roger and Jose Luis Morales each scored to give Levante its fourth win in five matches.

Sevilla, which stayed in seventh place and in danger of missing on a Europa League spot next season, got on the board with Carlos Fernandez.

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