Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Bobby Wood’s Progression: Fulfilling Julian Green’s Prophecy

(Editorial) – The U.S. Men’s National Team conceded a shocking goal in the opening five minutes of their 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign. They had dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes, but had not scored. The USMNT community (especially those done with Jurgen Klinsmann) were hanging on, waiting to see how this team on a poor run of form would respond.

A good build up along the right flank led to a DeAndre Yedlin cross into the box. There was Bobby Wood, anticipating his teammates, and finishing the play off with a goal. It was his fourth international goal of 2015. The USMNT breathed a sigh of relief and they went on to stomp St. Vincent and the Grenadines 6-1.

A year ago, Wood was playing his first regular minutes with the USMNT. Klinsmann was in the middle of his post-World Cup experimentation. Wood was part of that young crop of European-based talent. The 23-year-old and Hawaii native was with 1860 Munich at the time. Even though he was an product of the academy and was successful with the reserve team, he was having a tumultuous time with the senior team.

This unhealthy situation affected his national team form and it showed. Wood ended up making only four international appearances in 2014. He was called up to January Camp despite his run of form, but was sent home early. Wood needed a change in his club situation before his national team career could even be discussed further.

That month, Wood made the move to 2. Bundesliga side, Erzgebirge Aue. In a new (and probably much healthier situation), Wood made nine appearances, scoring three goals. This performance was enough for him to get a three-year contract with FC Union Berlin in July.

The striker has scored five goals in 14 matches and is playing regularly for his club now. He seems to be much happier now and it shows in his play for both club and country.

He’s much more energetic off the ball. He’s calm and confident. The kid has learned to anticipate plays. Now he’s getting to the right spots at the right time and he’s making his the work of his teammates count with goals. In 2015, he has four goals in eight appearances with the USMNT. Bobby Wood’s progression over the last year has been as good if not better than any other U.S. international his age or younger.

Some may be tempted to call him lucky, but what more could you ask of the kid? He’s taken advantage of every opportunity Klisnmann has given him. He’s scored goals against the powers like the Netherlands and Germany. He’s scored in big games like the CONCACAF Cup against Mexico.

Look at how he finds space to score a late winner against the Dutch. Look at this finish from the top of the box to beat Germany. Nevermind his extra time goal that nearly saved the Yanks in the CONCACAF Cup. Could a striker have excecuted that run and shot any better?

Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore appears to be perpetually up and down. Clint Dempsey is getting up there in age. Aron Johannsson’s club form has never seemed to transition to the national team level: he has four goals (tied with Wood) in 19 appearances with the USMNT. Perhaps it is time for the United State to give Wood a legitimate shot at earning a starting spot at striker.

Now, he’s hardly a finished product. At 5’10” he’s not exactly a #9. He has yet to be the focal point of an offense at any level professionaly. That doesn’t mean he can’t shoulder the load in the way Clint Dempsey or even Landon Donovan have in the past.

As he’s said in the past, he’s been successful with Union Berlin cause he’s playing every week with the same guys. With the U.S. in need of striker help, he could be able to fill that void. He could take some time (read: years) to grow and gel with his teammates. But if it’s working for Union Berlin, it could work for the USMNT.

Regardless, he brings something no one else in player pool does. He’s a channel runner who is finishing right now. He’s on a good run of form for both club and country. He’s playing and starting in Europe, albeit in the German second division, but that matters to Klinsmann. Wood doesn’t appear to be scared of the big moment, especially off the bench. The only other sticker even on Klinsmann’s radar who has shown that is Alan Gordon.

Many pundits and fans may still be skeptical. But I wonder, if Julian Green had been doing this, what would that look like? Would the twitter-fuel hype train be rioting for Green to replace Altidore? Would American soccer fans be following Green’s club games as closely as they’re following Sunderland and DeAndre Yedlin?

He’s a young American striker playing in Germany. He’s growing up as a player for both club and country. The kid is scoring and he might be on the brink of becoming a regular in the 18 for the USMNT. His name is Bobby Wood, and he is becoming the player we’d hoped Julian Green would be. More over, he could be the striker the USMNT needs badly.


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