Julian Green’s move to Stuttgart is a smart one after Bayern Munich freeze out

Julian Green has read the writing on the wall at Bayern Munich and left the Bavarians to join Stuttgart in the German second tier. There are two parts to this move – getting out of Bayern and then landing at Stuttgart – and both seem like the right moves for the 21-year-old.

For Green, his time as Bayern Munich was defined more by his potential than by what he was given a chance to do. The youngster has been with Bayern Munich for six years without ever truly breaking into the first team.

After palpable frustration under manager under Pep Guardiola, there was hope that the hiring of Carlo Ancelotti this year would afford Green more opportunities. Ancelotti spoke highly of the youngster, but other than some preseason and German Cup games, Green’s status largely stayed the same. He played zero Bundesliga minutes for Bayern, despite some solid enough performances before the season and Ancelotti’s suggestions that Green would feature.

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It’s not that Green’s precious few appearances weren’t solid – they were. But he was in some ways was punished by Bayern’s depth in the attack. Whatever Ancelotti thought of Green, he had no reason to give the youngster a chance. Battling Robert Lewandowski for starting minutes up top or Thomas Muller for a back-up role was not the easiest prospect.

Now, Green goes to a club in Stuttgart that will give him a chance to redefine himself. Although Stuttgart sits in the second tier at the moment, they do have quality up front and Green will have to fight to earn minutes – he is not signing up for an automatic starting spot. But the youngster can certainly break through as Stuttgart doesn’t have the depth of a Bayern, and Green could help carry the team back to the top tier next season.

On top of that, Stuttgart is a good club. It may be a step down in terms of division play, but the former powerhouse has merely fallen on hard times and looks on track for a resurgence. Green could be a big part of that turnaround, and it would give him a chance to find his footing as the leading man on a 2.Bundesliga team before jumping back into the first division.

Green can look to fellow USMNT striker Bobby Wood for inspiration. The 24-year-old struggled in his early days in the 2.Bundesliga, but eventually got into a groove and earned a move to a bigger first-tier club. Now, at Hamburg, his club may be struggling, but Wood isn’t, and he has proved the top tier is where he belongs. If Green can follow a similar path of growing into a leading role at Stuttgart in the lower division and following that form through to the top flight, that would make his Stuttgart move a success.

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Perhaps then, he can follow in Wood’s footsteps on the U.S. national team, too. Wood’s improving form and playing time in Germany has been a big reason for his growing role on the USMNT – and meanwhile, Green’s lack of playing time for Bayern spilled over to national team, where after his World Cup goal in 2014, he largely disappeared from the USMNT picture.

And yet, Green has shown glimpses that his goal at the World Cup was not just a fluke. Former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann gave Green a couple chances in October before World Cup qualifiers, and Green was the USMNT’s best player in that pair of friendlies. He showed more confidence, maturity and hunger than in his earlier outings for the USMNT,  but even then, Klinsmann did not get him on the field for November’s qualifiers.

If this Stuttgart move goes well, it may very well mean Green can earn his way back into the USMNT. Things feel up in the air now that Klinsmann, who favored the Bundesliga, is out and former LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is in. But if Green can prove himself at Germany’s top level, there’s no question he will earn more chances with the national team – and maybe then he would finally fulfill the hopes many had when he was rushed into USMNT eligibility in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Ultimately, what Green needs is a chance to play a leading role and prove his worth on a regular basis – not just as one-off experiments. Stuttgart is a place where he can do that, and it doesn’t come a moment too soon.

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