Up until Saturday morning, I had never heard of Adnan Januzaj. All of a sudden, he was subbing in for Manchester United, playing left wing, feinting, dribbling, drawing defenders to him, then distributing the ball toward goal.
He has just turned 19.
Listening to the very good British broadcasters, I deduced that this stripling was born in Belgium, with roots in Albania….and Turkey…and Serbia.…and even Kosovo, if Kosovo had a full international team.
The broadcasters seemed to hope that since the young man had been playing at the Man U club for three years he might have some kind of residence eligibility for England. Probably not, but one can understand their hopefulness.
Personally, I tried to remember if the Emma Lazarus poem, The New Colossus, (“Give me your tired, your poor….”) had any reference to your nimble-of-feet, but a quick scan suggests it does not.
Still, wouldn’t it be nice for the U.S. if it could produce just one kid with a touch like that? I suspect that if an American kid started juking around like that, Coach, on the sidelines would scream, “Cut the cute stuff!” Probably the Man U coaches do, too. But coaches cannot totally wring balance out of a kid.
Couldn’t the U.S. go out and borrow somebody like Adnan Januzaj from a more advanced soccer culture?
It’s been trying. The U.S. has qualified for seven straight World Cups with the help of solid recruits with an American parent, like Earnie Stewart (Netherlands) and Thomas Dooley (Germany). The hunt has intensified under Jürgen Klinsmann, with his ties to Germany.
To date, the best recruit has been Jermaine Jones, a swaggering, broad-shouldered enforcer who reminds me of Charles Oakley, the hit man of the great Knicks basketball teams of the ‘90’s. Jones doesn’t smile as much as Oak did, but he does hit people. Every team needs one. Jones makes the U.S. better because no opponent wants to go near him. He learned that in the Bundesliga.
But where is the player with the shiftiness of a Gale Sayers jitterbugging to the outside in American football, faking inside, going outside, hips swiveling?
Now the U.S. is going back to the supply depot. On Wednes- day evening, it will unveil Julian Green, all of 18, who has come along in the great system of Bayern Munich but has not yet been scooped up for the German national team. Born in Florida, son of an American soldier, Green had the choice of soccer nationalities, and he has gone with the U.S. He would not be in uniform Wednesday if Klinsmann did not think he could play up front in this June’s World Cup in Brazil.
This bold move suggests Klinsmann does not think Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey – who helped produce the epic 91st-minute goal against Algeria in 2010 – can approach 2010 form in the Group of Death this June.
Klinsmann has a contract through 2018. So, essentially, does Julian Green.
Wednesday’s game against Mexico, in Glendale, Ariz., will begin at 11:15 pm eastern time.
Speaking of Mexico, the aforementioned Adnan Januzaj turned the corner and set up Chicharito (Javier Hernández of Mexico) for the fourth goal by Man U on Saturday.
That’s Januzaj, No. 44, coming from the left. He’s 19. And he’s Belgian, or Albanian….but no matter what Emma Lazarus wrote, he is not American.