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MLS Review: L.A. struggles

MLS Jul 7, 2014
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Toe Poke: Tim Howard airport?

Toe Poke Jul 3, 2014
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 Posted by Alex Labidou
Jul 3, 2014

Scouting America: Julian Green

United States forward Julian Green struck gold with his first ever touch in a World Cup game, a stunning volley to get the U.S. back in the game against Belgium.

It only took one touch to electrify an entire fan base.

Julian Green's remarkable World Cup debut -- which saw him score just seconds after entering the round of 16 clash versus Belgium -- has got United States fans excited about the future.

It was the type of goal that only the utmost confidence can deliver -- a finish that you'd expect from the likes of Lionel Messi or Robin van Persie -- and leads inevitably to the question: How good can Green be?

To assess his potential, ESPN FC spoke to a scout who works for a Champions League club in one of Europe's top leagues (Germany, England, Spain).

Here's his take:

Strengths:

Julian Green became a household name for American soccer fans after his jaw-dropping World Cup debut.

Green hasn't been given too many opportunities to impress for the United States, but the times he has featured, he's shown glimpses of what he is capable of doing.

Quick, sharp and full of energy, one of Green's major strengths lies in his ability to run both on and off the ball.

On the ball, his movements are confident and calculated. Comfortable playing both on the left and right side of midfield, the versatile winger is capable of using both feet, making him difficult to defend and very unpredictable.

Though able to use his speed and change of pace to get to the end line to deliver crosses when playing on the left, he often cuts inside sharply at the last minute and manages to create enough space for himself to get his shot off.

When used on the right, he's happy to run at defenders and put in good crosses with his gifted right foot, or come inside and combine with midfielders. He's got a good shot on him, and he displays good awareness of when to use power and when to control his efforts on goal.

Off the ball, his movement is good, and he showed against Belgium that he has good understanding of the game by timing his run to perfection in behind the defense before scoring his volley.

Weaknesses:

Green isn't the strongest player the world has ever seen, but he is still young and can work on strength aspects specific to his position.

When dealing with bigger, stronger defenders, he often goes down with little contact. As he grows and matures both physically and as a footballer, he'll likely learn how to use his body even more and hold off defenders much bigger than he is.

U.S. World Cup exit reaction:

- Jeff Carlisle: Reviewing Klinsmann's World Cup
- Roger Bennett: The future is bright

- Jason Davis: A tale of two strikers
Chris Jones: Band of brothers go down fighting
- Doug McIntyre: Young players shine
- Landon Donovan: We need to keep developing
- Klinsmann Cam: Emotional ups and downs vs. Belgium
- Pablo S. Torre: Hey, America, where are you going?

The young American also needs to work on the defensive side of his game.

As the game continues to develop and fullbacks become more immersed in the attack, wingers and outside midfielders are required to help defend more and more, and at times, Green's contributions can be a little lackluster.

Once again, part of the development of a player is learning all aspects of his position, and though Green certainly excels when on the ball and in the attack, he'll have to improve his defensive game, which include both 1 vs. 1 defending, as well as tracking back in general as he looks to make it at the next level.

Why He'll Make It:

At 19 years of age, Green is in excellent position to continue making big steps forward in his career. Under the watchful eye of Pep Guardiola and with midfielders like Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller all around on a daily basis, Green has an excellent supporting cast at the club level.

He's already shown an excellent understanding of the game, as well as a technical skill set capable of executing many of his ideas.

- Scouting Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin

With time and patience in Munich, Green should be given the opportunities he needs to really make a name for himself. Likely those opportunities will come in cup competitions throughout the year, but it is up to him to make a big enough impression when thrown in the deep end if he expects to stay at the German champions.

At the international stage, Jurgen Klinsmann has shown a lot of confidence and faith in Green, and these two things will only work wonders for the youngster as he looks to push on in his career.

Why He Won't Make It:

Though being surrounded by the likes of Ribery, Gotze and Muller on a daily basis can be a huge positive, opportunity can also be limited when youngsters are on the books at Europe's biggest clubs.

Many players get stuck in the trap of sticking around too long when at bigger clubs, and it'll be important for Green to be able to realize when he needs to pursue other options if he is unable to become a regular at Munich.

At 19, 20 and 21, players are breaking into first teams and doing their best to solidify themselves in the starting XI. It won't be easy at Munich, but nothing is impossible.

From an on-the-pitch standpoint, Green will have to work on his weaknesses to really become a bit more balanced and reliable both ways.

Similar Playing Style: Aaron Lennon

Julian Green's ability to take on defenders with dribbles reminds our scout of Tottenham's Aaron Lennon.

Wingers come in all shapes, sizes and styles, but players like Julian Green and Aaron Lennon stick out because of their quick nature and ability to cut inside and outside so quickly.

Like Green, Lennon secured his spot for England at World Cup 2006 at just 19 years of age, and the talented Spurs winger has now made nearly 350 appearances for his club team. Lennon's value comes from his mazy dribbles, quick movements and confident take-ons.

Comfortable playing out wide or coming inside to combing with other midfielders and a striker, Lennon also scores the occasional goal and will always be a threat because of his speed and ability to get in behind.

Rate this out of 5 for each:

Dribbling: 4
Finishing: 3
First Touch: 4
Passing and Vision: 3
Speed: 4
Aerial Ability: 2
Strength: 2
Injury: 4 (where 1 means he gets injured a lot and 5 means he's always fit)
Maturity: 3
Defense (Marking, Tackling): 2
Score: 31 out of 50

Potential Score: 43

Ratings meter:

0-10: Not even NASL level
10-15: Average NASL player
15-20: MLS role player
20-25: MLS starter
25-30: MLS All-Star
30-35: Starter on mid-, low-table EPL side or role player on top team
35-40: A solid starter on a top EPL club
40-45: A legit star player
45-50: Messi, Ronaldo

Current transfer fee: $3.5 million

Future transfer fee: $10-25 million

Alex Labidou

Alex Labidou is a General Editor at ESPN FC. Alex previously served as the Deputy Editor/Lead Reporter of Goal.com USA for three years and has made appearances on CNN International. Follow Alex on twitter at @LabidouESPN.

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