German-American forward Julian Green, second from left, has been given permission to join the U.S. on a non-FIFA international date by his club, Bayern Munich. (John Todd/ISI Photos)
MUNICH — You never know when you might walk right into a news story.
On Tuesday over lunch at Bayern Munich’s training headquarters, 18-year-old German-American Julian Green was sitting next to me when he found out that Bayern had given him permission to join the U.S. camp for its friendly against Mexico in Glendale, Ariz., on April 2.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann had called Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to ask for the club’s willingness to release Green. The game does not take place on a FIFA international date, so Bayern had to grant Green permission to make the trip.
Green is one of the most promising talents in German soccer, a forward who has risen to Bayern’s first team under manager Pep Guardiola and received his first official action with the first team at the end of a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow in November. His father, Jerry, a former U.S. serviceman, lives in Tampa, Fla., and his mother, Ursula, lives in Germany.
Green participated in the U.S. camp before the team's recent friendly against Ukraine. As was the case for that game, Green will not be eligible to play for the U.S. against Mexico, but he will be allowed to train with the team.
Green has played for Germany’s youth national teams in official competitions but not for its senior national team. He would have the option of making a one-time switch with FIFA to play for the United States if he so desires.
[Editor's note: Later Tuesday, U.S. Soccer announced that Green has indeed filed his one-time switch and has chosen to represent the USA. He cannot play against Mexico unless that switch is approved before the April 2 match date.]
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When asked if there was a possibility that he could choose to play for the U.S. at this year’s World Cup — and be tied to the U.S. for good — Green nodded his head.
“Yes, I think so,” he said. “If I can play a World Cup at 18 years old, it would be great, amazing. But I have to train hard.”
Green said Klinsmann had mentioned the possibility of playing for the U.S. at the World Cup, but the coach has not guaranteed him a spot on the World Cup team if he chooses to wear the Stars & Stripes.
“But the chance is there,” Green said with a smile. “I have to play well, and we will see.”