- Bobby Wood returns to U.S. MNT camp for the first time since November
- The MNT striker tallied nine goals and two assists during his first season with Hamburg, helping the club avoid relegation
- This camp marks the first instance that the MNT will have all four of Wood, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris at its disposal
A year ago, Bobby Wood was coming into U.S. Men’s National Team camp after setting the scoring record for an American in Germany’s top two leagues when his 17-goal outlay with 2.Bundesliga side Union Berlin earned him a move into the top flight with Hamburg.
Wood was a focal point in the club’s attack throughout his first Bundesliga campaign, tallying nine goals and two assists in 32 league and cup matches, but he also got a first-hand view of the roller coaster ride which accompanies a season-long battle to avoid relegation.
“Going through the ups and downs, you learn a lot, you get a lot of experience and that’s something that you just have to embrace,” Wood told ussoccer.com.
- READ MORE: MNT Players Score at Record Rate in Germany
Having experienced a 12-match, nearly four-month stretch without a win to start the season, the fact that HSV remained in the Bundesliga is impressive in itself. The north German club found a nice run of form between December and March before a five-match winless streak down the stretch put the club back on the relegation docket. On the final day of the campaign, an 89th goal from Wood’s teammate Gianluca Waldschmidt, lifted Hamburg to a 2-1 win against Wolfsburg and out of the relegation playoff, condemning their opponents to the two-game affair instead. Hamburg continues its legacy as the only team in Germany to play every season in the Bundesliga since the league’s inception in 1963.
“It was tough. At the same time, it’s something you have to enjoy and feed off. That stress and then the joy of not getting relegated is something you can only experience playing the sport. We had successes as a team. Everyone had their moment, and it was just great how we came together as a team at the end of the season and all really fought for each other to stay up. What it meant for us as players and then of course the fans, it felt fulfilling.”
Avoiding the relegation playoff also allowed Wood to join U.S. MNT camp on time, after having to withdraw from the March World Cup Qualifying camp due to injury. Wood watched from Germany as the U.S. got back on track on the Road to Russia, earning a 6-0 win against Honduras and 1-1 away draw in Panama.
“It sucks not being with the team, but I was pretty confident that they would get the job done and I thought they did a really good job of getting the results,” he said.
And though he’s only just getting his first training sessions in with U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, they have become well acquainted thanks to the MNT boss’s trips to Europe during the past few months.
“It was very smooth and direct. He told me what he wanted, he told me what we were trying to do as a team and things went well.”
- READ MORE: Five Things to Know About Bobby Wood
In preparing for Saturday’s friendly against Venezuela and World Cup Qualifying matches vs. Trinidad & Tobago (June 8) and Mexico (June 11), Wood joins veterans Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, as well as youngster Jordan Morris in forming the MNT’s striker corps for the June matches. Surprisingly, it marks the first time that all four will be in a U.S. MNT camp together.
Given the injury setbacks experienced all over the field in March, Arena is happy to have the quartet at his disposal. More specifically, he’s pleased to have the speed, energy and toughness Wood provides up top as the U.S. seeks more qualifying points in June.
“Bobby is a little different than our other strikers, so that’s a real plus. I think the four guys we’re going to have in camp are good strikers and we can certainly utilize all of them.”