With the news on Friday that German-American Julian Green will be training with the United States men's national team prior to the team's March 5 friendly against the Ukraine, many American fans became instantly excited about the prospect of him playing for the USMNT in this summer's World Cup.
Despite Green's agreement to train with the team, he has not yet filed his one-time international switch and is still provisionally tied to Germany for the time being due to his play in an official tournament with the German Under-19 team.
But even if Green were to switch sides, lost in all the excitement, would be the key question of whether Green deserves a spot on the team at all.
There's no doubt that the 18-year-old Bayern Munich product is talented. It is rumored that he is a favorite of legendary coach Pep Guardiola, and at such a young age Green has already appeared in the Champions League—something rare for even the most experienced and talented American players.
Green also has 15 goals this season in 18 games for Bayern Munich's reserve squad and could potentially be a fixture in the American lineup for four World Cups over the next decade.
However, Green still has almost no first-team experience. He has never played a single match in the Bundesliga and has a grand total of two minutes of playing time with Bayern Munich's first team. He has played almost all of his games this season with Bayern's reserve squad which plays in the fourth division of German soccer.
Furthermore, Green could potentially go to the World Cup with the U.S., not play a single minute and have no positive impact whatsoever.
How many other players with such a lack of experience would ever be considered for the full national team, and considering that, why is Green being considered at all?
Much of the American excitement regarding Green has nothing to do with the impact he would have on the team in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer, but the prospect of him helping the team in the future.
The rest of the excitement about Green revolves around the intense fear among American fans that Green could devote his loyalty to the German national team and not the U.S.
U.S. fans have been burned with dual nationals before, most notably Giuseppe Rossi and Neven Subotic, both who spurned the U.S., and both who became stars for their respective clubs and national teams.
Ever since then, American fans have become paranoid about dual nationals choosing to represent other nations and have a desire to lock down any potential talent as quickly as possible.
Some of this fear is, of course, pragmatic, both with Green and others. Taking a quick look at the Americans likely to represent the U.S. in Brazil, one sees numerous players who began as dual nationals including Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, Jermaine Jones, Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson.
On the bubble to represent the U.S. this summer are a host of more dual nationals including John Anthony Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, Jose Torres, Michael Orozco, Terrence Boyd and Danny Williams. Locking down Green now certainly makes sense for the future.
But, is it really the best choice for the U.S. this summer?
While using one spot on the roster for the future probably won't make much of the difference, considering the U.S's unresolved depth issues at several key positions, using a spot on a player who most likely won't get in the games also doesn't make a lot of sense.
It also opens the team up to possible chemistry issues, as the final selections for Brazil will be made only days before the team departs for the World Cup.
If Julian Green does commit to the US and head to Brazil, every American player just realized they cannot take their roster spot for granted— roger bennett (@rogbennett) February 15, 2014
If Green is part of the squad, the veterans will know it was in the place of someone who has been with the squad quite a bit during qualifying. That being said, not too many American fans would shed a tear if Green took the place of a controversial player like Brek Shea.
Either path Jurgen Klinsmann takes is laden with pitfalls. If he doesn't take Green, misses the chance to cap-tie him and Green goes on to represent Germany, American fans will never forgive Klinsmann.
If Green goes on to become a megastar of world football, like many think he has the potential to do, that anger towards Klinsmann would only grow exponentially with every success Green found in his career.
However, if Klinsmann does take Green and it creates internal division within the squad as Green takes another player's roster spot and perhaps even playing time, fans will deride Klinsmann for his failure to lead the team in Brazil.
The American footballing world is littered with overhyped teens who never met their true potential and taking a shot on Green at such an early stage is a gamble, at best. That being said, the risk of missing out on a player of Green's potential talent might be too much for Klinsmann to resist.
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