Julian Green (middle) celebrates after scoring for the United States against Belgium in a FIFA World Cup round of 16 match on July 1, 2014, in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- As the curtain was coming down on the United States' latest World Cup adventure, another one was just being raised -- in spectacular fashion.
Brought in as a late substitute in the round of 16 match against Belgium, Julian Green made a memorable appearance by scoring on his very first touch in the waning moments of the 2-1 elimination loss.
The 19-year-old was a controversial selection to the team because many observers speculated that his inclusion came at the expense of veteran Landon Donovan. It was thought that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had promised the talented Bayern Munich attacker a place in the squad if he committed his international future to the U.S. rather than Germany. Klinsmann said that was never the case.
Some two minutes after replacing Alejandro Bedoya in the second period of extratime at Arena Fonte Nova, Green struck on a right-footed volley.
"Congrats to Julian Green getting his World Cup goal," captain Clint Dempsey said. "He’s another player that has a bright future."
Since Green – the son of an American father and a German mother -- has not yet been able to crack the Bayern Munich lineup in the Bundesliga, perhaps his late heroics will grab the attention of the European giant’s management.
"It was just phenomenal how he came in and scored that goal and gets us back," Klinsmann said. "Julian was growing at a very fast speed in the last seven weeks and we guided him through that process.”
Klinsmann was hoping to use Green earlier in the game, but the first-half substitution of right-back Fabian Johnson (hamstring injury) caused a domino effect at other positions.
"We knew that he was ready,” commented the 49-year-old former Germany manager. “I told him before the game watch the No. 2 [defender Toby Alderweireld], read him, have a specific eye on him and he knew that he might get this chance today.
“He's obviously a very promising guy going forward and we'll see a lot more of him. It's fun to watch that kid grow.”