We may not have quite managed to herald a profit from Julian Green’s awesome 15-minute cameo for USA against Belgium, but news.bwin.com/en/ charged ahead of the curve by flagging up the 19-year-old as the player Jurgen Klinsmann would turn to in a World Cup emergency.
The former Die Mannschaft and Spurs legend left 32-year-old ex-FC Bayern Munchen loan star Landon Donovan back in LA for a teenage wing-forward who has wowed coaches at the Allianz Arena since landing in Bavaria four years ago.
After ignoring Green’s claims for a first-team berth during the group stage, Klinsmann partially vindicated his decision to bin 156-cap Stars and Stripes legend Donovan in favour of his youthful compatriot – who had turned out for his country just once previously – in extra-time in Salvador.
Green scored 15 goals in 23 Regionalliga Bayern for FCB’s B-side, and judging by his short but sweet contribution to the samba jamboree, Bundesliga defences ought to be extremely wary of this precocious talent next term.
USA were down 2-0 and seemingly out at half-time of extra-time, having found Marc Wilmots’ stout defence unbreachable, but within two minutes of the restart it was game on after Green’s smart finish to Michael Bradley’s inch-perfect lobbed ball.
Belgium held on following a USMNT onslaught – which included unlucky point-blank failures from Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones – and advance to a quarter-final clash with Argentina in Brasilia, where they’ll need to keep up the good work at the back to stand any chance of progressing at 6/4.
Wilmots’ men made it through and are now 12/1 to lift the trophy for the first time, but Klinsmann’s energetic outfit won the battle for hearts and minds with their best performance at a World Cup in living memory, epitomised by keeper and captain Tim Howard’s 15 saves – a new tournament record.
Right-back Fabian Johnson, USA’s best outfield player in Brazil, succumbed to a thigh strain early on and was replaced by the equally superb DeAndre Yedlin, who caused Belgium countless problems down the flank, while experienced heads Dempsey, Bradley and Jones exit the World Cup with their hard-earned reputations enhanced.
However, the emergence of Green ranks as the big positive as USA prepare for the Copa America in two years time, which will be opened up for CONCACAF countries to mark its centenary.
FC Bayern boss Pep Guardiola clearly sees a place for the wing-forward in his medium-term plans, having handed him a Champions League debut last season from the subs bench against CSKA Moscow, replacing Germany livewire and fellow youngster Mario Gotze.