If anyone was to take bets on a player who would score game-winning goals against both Netherlands and Germany prior to the U.S. MNT’s friendlies this past week, 22-year-old striker Bobby Wood might have had some of the longest odds.
That’s because the Hawaiian-born forward’s 2014-15 season was rocky to say the least. Despite starting to get consistent call-ups from Jurgen Klinsmann last fall, Wood’s club situation with 2.Bundesliga side 1860 Munich was murky, with the striker making just six appearances before the New Year as the club battled to stay in the German second division.
In need of playing time, Wood moved to fellow relegation rivals Erzgebirge Aue in February where he began to play consistently and even scored a brace in his second appearance, a 3-2 win at Fortuna Dusseldorf, before an injury to his right knee threw out another hurdle. On the shelf for nearly two months, Wood returned to the side in late April and finished the season strong, but couldn’t keep the club from avoiding the drop to the third division.
A call to Men’s National Team camp for the June friendlies provided a nice avenue for Wood to cap his club season, and the substitute striker made the most of his initial opportunity as his stoppage time strike helped the United States to a 4-3 win away to the No. 6-ranked team in the world last Friday.
With less time on the field in Wednesday’s friendly at Germany, Wood rode a wave of confidence to provide another huge impact on the outcome. Receiving a driven pass from Brad Evans near the top of the area, Wood deftly turned and shot from distance to deliver an eye-poping 2-1 victory against the defending World Cup champions.
“I pretty much just got a great ball from Brad and Jordan [Morris] faked a defender out and let it through to me,” Wood said. “I just took a touch to the inside and I just shot it and scored.”
Two late game-winners in less than a week against the countries that finished first and third at last summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, gave U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann plenty of reason to praise Wood’s performances.
“It just gives you such a big smile and a real kind of emotional boost seeing a young player that is trying so hard to break through here in Europe,” Klinsmann said. “With that goal in Holland especially his wonderful finishing against Germany, the world is opening up for him.
“We want these guys to succeed and have that special moment. We brought him along because we know he’s good or he’s not in the National Team. Every National Team player is damn good and they deserve to be there.”
USA striker Bobby Wood repaid MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's faith in him by scoring two match-winners in a row in the team's latest friendlies against soccer powers Netherlands and Germany.
Speaking of the faith that Klinsmann showed to him, Wood said, “It’s just an honor. I’m happy that Jurgen, after such a tough year, he kept calling me back. I’m happy I got to repay him and the team. I’m just going to enjoy the moment right now and I’m happy that we got the win.”Despite his two strong performances against two of the top-ranked teams in the world, Wood was not named to the provisional 35-man roster for next month’s Gold Cup, which had been submitted last week. His omission is more about making sure he’s in a good spot professionally and health-wise, heading into the fall.
“I want him to have his break,” Klinsmann said. “He had a struggle [this season] with a lot of injuries and then he has to work out his club situation as well. He’s getting his break. Hopefully he sorts everything out. We’ll see him back in September with our group, but seeing his goal today was just a wonderful thing to enjoy.”