GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was the moment US national team fans have been waiting for ever since the name Julian Green popped up on their radar.
Here, with a small city packed into University of Phoenix Stadium to witness the USMNT's 2-2 draw Wednesday against Mexico, was finally an opportunity to see in action the 18-year-old Bayern Munich prodigy that Jurgen Klinsmann had chased for the better part of two years.
Green would have half an hour to show what he was made of, half an hour to convince Klinsmann, his new international teammates and an expectant American fan base he could hack it, perhaps even make a World Cup squad.
And while there were certainly some rough moments, understandable considering the occasion, Green showed at the very least a desire to press the issue and was denied what appeared to be a legitimate penalty shot in the final moments by Panamanian referee Roberto Moreno.
“I think you saw in some moments what this kid is actually capable of doing,” Klinsmann said. “How he goes in the box and draws two guys and should have gotten a penalty. The referee was five yards away from it, which is pretty ridiculous.
“Obviously he was nervous, too. He played his first cap in front of 60,000 people against Mexico, so here and there maybe you slip and lose your balance like happened once there.”
Green didn’t speak to reporters, apparently at Klinsmann’s urging, but he also didn’t seem particularly overwhelmed by his first international cap, perhaps understandable considering he spends most days training with arguably the best club in the world in Munich.
His teammates, still reticent to speak out about the new member of their group as expectations are judiciously managed, had little to say, but Klinsmann emphasized yet again following the match that Green had been welcomed with open arms.
“When you are among other players, you check each other out and you understand within 10 minutes whether it’s a good player or not,” Klinsmann said. “Julian is a very good player. We are happy to have him not playing for us. Obviously that age gives you everything for the future. It was a start for him.”
A start, and nothing more if, as expected, Green continues to march through the youth ranks to become an international fixture for the nation of his birth.
And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
“I thought he did well. He’s a young kid,” Kyle Beckerman said. “That’s what we all have to remember: he’s really young. But he did well for himself, I thought, and he’s something for the future for sure.”