Remember when John Brooks was demoted to the Hertha Berlin youth team and there was talk that the club may jettison the American centerback? Those days are long gone.
Brooks was magnificent in Hertha's 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday and drew the praise of manager Jos Luhukay, who he clashed with earlier this season.
"John played his best match of 2014. He was always there when it got dangerous in our box, no matter whether the ball came flying in high or was passed in low.
"That was the Brooks I have always wished for. I am delighted for him. I have had my battles with him, but we have always been honest with each other, and that's why I am just delighted."
Every outlet praised Brooks' play as well and the centerback said afterward that he felt he played very well. Nobody would disagree with that.
Brooks is vital to the future of the United States. The team has had serious issues at centerback and even their sub-par options at the moment are aging to the point where it's tough to imagine them being at their best in 2018. It's reached the point where Jermaine Jones may be the Americans' best option right now and he has played the position for only a few matches.
Meanwhile, Brooks is just 21 years old, has played in a World Cup, is at a solid Bundesliga club and has every physical tool that you could want in a centerback. He has the potential to be a dominant player at a position of need and anchor the U.S. defense at least through the 2022 World Cup. That's asking a lot of a player who was in the doghouse just a couple months ago, but he's begun to find his footing and that demotion may have been the kick in the rear he needed.