For the majority of his young career Bobby Wood has toiled in Germany’s second division. That hasn’t stopped him making a name for himself in the USMNT. Last summer Wood shocked two of soccer’s superpowers when he scored late winners against the Netherlands and world champions Germany. Since then he scored in the CONCACAF Cup against America’s great rival Mexico, as well as the less great Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in a World Cup qualifier. All these goals for his country came in the summer and fall of 2015, and while it may not have put him on the map for many in the US, he’s certainly on the fringes.
Only 23, Wood came up in Munich playing for 1860 Munich, but he never really made an impact with Die Löwen. A loan last year to Erzgebirge Aue didn’t yield much in the way of success for the Hawaii native either. Erzgebirge Aue was relegated from 2.Bundesliga and Wood only made 9 appearances for the club. During the summer, shortly after his heroics against the Dutch and Germans, Wood signed a 3-year contract with Union Berlin, a cult favorite club that exemplifies Germany’s fan ownership culture. For Wood, it seems to have been a wise decision.
Wood has been excellent for Union this season, so far racking up 14 goals in the 2.Bundesliga. 14 goals are the most goals ever scored by an American in either of Germany’s top two divisions. Wood sits 3rd in the goal scoring chart behind former Bayern striker Nils Peterson and VfL Bochum front man Simon Terodde. 2015-16 really has been the best year of Wood’s career, not only in Germany but also with frequent call-ups to the USMNT. Now, his national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann is saying that Wood must take the next step in his career and move up to the Bundesliga.
His goal scoring exploits at Union Berlin have earned Wood some attention from at least one Bundesliga club. The Hamburger Morgenpost reported that Wood meet with Hamburg’s sporting director in Berlin recently to come to terms with a possible move to HSV next season. Hamburg is a step up from Berlin, and it would certainly come with more competition for a place on the team, but Wood is now at an age where challenging himself might be the best thing for his development.
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Wood would join fellow American’s like Fabian Johnson and Christian Pulisic in one of Europe’s best leagues, and for Klinsmann, this is the best thing for his career. Wood hasn’t had a season like this before. In 50 appearances for 1860 Munich, he only scored 3 goals. Now as one of the top scorers in Germany’s second division he needs to see how prolific he can be against better competition. The USMNT could use someone who can put the ball in the net with regularity. Wood has done that this year, whether of not he’s able to do that in the Bundesliga against the likes of Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Bayern is yet to be seen.
If it happens that Wood makes it to Hamburg next year he won’t find it so easy to get first team minutes, unless he’s able to bring his current form with him to the top flight. It will most certainly be a challenge for the young man, but for his future as a professional, as well as his future with the USMNT it’s a natural progression and a risk that is very much worth taking.