Teen German-American Green set for US debut

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Julian Green, the latest German-American lured to the U.S. national team by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, is ready for make his international debut in Wednesday night’s exhibition against Mexico.

A glistening young talent with speed and skill, the 18-year-old Bayern Munich forward played in three European Under-19 Championship qualifiers for Germany last fall, then was granted permission by FIFA last week to switch associations to the United States.

Green was born in Florida but grew up mainly in Germany, making regular trips to Tampa to see his father.

An avid hockey player until he chose soccer at about age 12, he made his first-team debut for Bayern Munich on Nov. 27 as an 88th-minute substitute in a Champions League match at CSKA Moscow. He’s spent most of the season with the Bayern reserves, who play in the German third division.

Klinsmann, a former Bayern player and coach, is a big reason for the switch, according to Green’s father, Jerry.

“He knew the coach’s pedigree. (Klinsmann) was certainly an excellent soccer player and has an excellent soccer mind,” the elder Green said during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “And that in combination with his own feeling toward America, being part of an American squad” led to the decision.

Klinsmann put Julian Green off limits to media ahead of the match, the last for the Americans before the final pre-World Cup training camp opens in mid-May.

“We don’t want to put any type of pressure on him or too high expectations,” Klinsmann said, “because at the end of the day he’s a player to be developed. … How fast everything can proceed is up to him. We take his pace, we take his development and have a very close eye on him.”

Julian was 2 when he moved with his older brother Justin and his German-born mother to Germany. Jerry Reed stayed in Florida with the plan of joining his family. It never happened, and eventually there was a divorce.

Jerry Green said Julian was interested in sports virtually from the time he could run.

“I could see early on that he was a pretty athletic kid,” the father said. “When he was 2 years old he was already trying to play sports and always had a ball in his hands somewhere and was interested in anything moving quickly.”

Julian followed his older brother into hockey, then into soccer.

Justin gravitated toward academics. He’s about to receive a degree in interactive media from college in Germany, as an environmental artist, designing background art for video games.

“I am very proud of them,” Jerry Green said, “very proud that they are taking advantage of the opportunities that they have in life. That’s all you can ask for. They’re both doing something that they’re very passionate about. A parent couldn’t ask for any more from his kids.”

The father describes Julian as “a very level-headed kid.”

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