Don’t Look Now USMNT Fans, But Bobby Wood Is Playing The Worst Ball Of His Career
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Bobby Wood spent an anonymous 56 minutes on the pitch last weekend in Hamburg’s 2-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin, consigning the club to 16th in the 18-team Bundesliga and opening Wood to fierce criticism from manager Markus Gisdol. Wood has started nine league matches for Hamburg this term, but he’s only managed a single goal. That was back in August.
“We do everything to support him, but we can’t do more than we do right now,” said Gisdol. “It’s up to Bobby to drag himself out of it.”
Bobby Wood started and was subbed off in the 56' of Hamburg's 2–1 loss to Hertha Berlin. He was 13/17 in his passing, won 4 duels, no shots. pic.twitter.com/zaZUBGr8kx— Nats Abroad (@NatsAbroad) October 28, 2017
Wood just signed a contract extension with Hamburg back in June, keeping him at the club until 2021 and paying him nearly $3.5 million annually. The forward’s return of five goals from 28 matches last season doesn’t tell the whole story as the 24-year-old’s work rate and willingness to sacrifice for the team helped the club avoid relegation.
“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” said Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt when revealing Wood’s extension. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”
This was expected to be a breakthrough season for both Wood and the club after last year’s taxing drama, but we’re 10 matches into the Bundesliga campaign and it’s evident that Hamburg have another relegation scrape on their hands.
In hindsight, it’s easy to say that Wood might’ve been better off joining one of his rumored suitors in the summer window — Leicester City, West Ham and Borussia Dortmund being among the parties looking to trigger his release clause — but the native of Hawaii has proven his resiliency by rising from the fourth tier of German football with 1860 Munich to the starting XI of one of Germany’s biggest clubs.
However, it remains to be seen how much longer Wood will be able to justify that place in the starting lineup. Hamburg host Stuttgart on Saturday, and the USMNT star could be dropped to the bench.
“In the end, the performance principle also applies to him,” said Gisdol. “It all falls together. He’s descended into a negative spiral from which he has to free himself. He has the potential to be a good forward, but he is not in any sort of form right now. He might give it his all, but things are not going well for him somehow.”
Wood is part of the same American generation of players that failed to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics — what Jurgen Klinsmann would refer to as America’s Lost Generation. Things have only gotten worse for this crew at the international level, and a quick glance at the U.S. roster for the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship paints a pretty dark picture.
Wood is one of the few in that age range to go on and establish himself abroad, but the demanding atmosphere of Europe means he'll have to prove himself once again.