Age: 24 (born Nov. 15, 1992)
Club: Hamburger SV (Hamburg)
League: German Bundesliga
Club Number: 7
National Number: 7
Born: Honolulu, Hawaii, US
US History: U20, U23, 2014 WC, Debut 2013, 1st goal 2015 vs Netherlands (Friendly)
I rate Bobby Wood as the top US forward on our current squad. This is consistent with ASN’s 100 where he sits at Number 1 for forwards (5th overall) and Four Four Two’s ranking has him listed as their number 2 forward behind Jozy Altidore (8th overall). Bobby wasn’t really on the world radar when he was coming up though he did catch interest in 2007, he was barely on the US’s radar until he exploded onto it in 2015.
He grew up in Honolulu before chasing his soccer across the ocean to Southern California and superclub Irvine Strikers in 2004 before hopping another ocean to Germany in 2007 to join the 1860 Munich academy. He made his debut and then his first start in 2 Bundesliga in 2011.
He was mostly unassuming for both club and country. For his club he scored 12 goals in 46 appearances for Munich II before getting first team minutes with 1860 Munich where he was only able to manage 3 goals in 50 games for them. He made a scattered few appearances for USMNT U20 and U23, but severe knee injuries with each group derailed his chances and almost ending his career. It was his 1860 Munich coach who finally convinced him to try again at returning to the field. He returned to play and Wood was even called back up for the US Senior team and had a few appearances off the bench in 2014. Back in Germany his club gave him a brief loan to Erzgebirge Aue which gave him a that little bit of confidence back as he netted three goals. This would open the door for another national team shot. Then everything changed for him and the US striker pool against the Netherlands.
Bobby is a speedy work horse, part of what Coach Jurgen Klinnsmann hoped would be a change in the way the US played. Jozy Altidore’s move to MLS may have even played a part in Klinnsmann’s determination to find another striker who was challenging himself in Europe. Whatever the reason, he put Bobby Wood on the pitch and in the 89th minute Wood delivered against one of the great teams in Europe to complete a 4-3 epic comeback win that started as a 3-1 lead for Holland:
This was just a friendly match, but it was an incredible comeback against a truly fantastic and deep team. It was the US’s first win against Netherlands ever. Many questioned why Woods was still getting minutes and he answered the bell in a moment that would change his career’s course.
It might have been considered a fluke except five days later he scored an even more impressive goal against an even more talented team in Germany, 87th minute in dramatic fashion. US’s first win over Germany in their history and to do in Germany was special.
Bobby’s career changed course after this summer. He rattled our depth chart which had been a lonely lazy spot for Jozy Altidore. A depth chart that continued to bring Chris Wondolowski back and forced Klinsmann to dig into the college ranks adding Jordan Morris to the group. Wood actually pushed Jozy to fight for his position, while also allowing for a new style of attack for team USA. No longer the reliance on a two forward system, no longer the reliance on a holding forward, Wood brought a different element to our team with speed, wearing defenses down with exhaustive runs. Jurgen is someone Wood credits with his turn around.
The goals against two European giants no doubt had an impact on Union Berlin signing him only a few months later and Wood rewarding their purchase with 17 goals of 31 appearances. The most by an American in the Bundesliga top two flights.
Wood had a ton of interest from other clubs, but eventually settled on Hamburg as his next move. He’s been there two years and recently signed an extension to stay where he is. He was critical in scoring key goals that helped Hamburg avoid relegation last season. And he’s got his team in the best start this season that they’ve ever been sitting 3rd at 2-0-0. They only won 10 games all of last season. Bobby started the season with a goal in the opener:
Bobby brings great qualities to Hamburg and is our top striker. His skill set fits so well with Pulisic, Nagbe, Johnson and the more attacking style soccer that we are capable of and his ability to be a loan striker allows us to have different looks including pairing Kellyn Acosta with Michael Bradley for more defensive coverage in front of our back line.
Woods, John Brooks and DeAndre Yeldin have become very close friends both for country and off the field. Woods has earned the respect of both young and older players on the national team and will hope to establish himself as the go-to forward under Coach Bruce Arena. His high activity and dangerous runs wear down defenses in a way not many of our forward group can and his first touch is far superior to the group outside of Clint Dempsey.
“He has more pace than me, probably covers more distance in the game,” Dempsey said. “A physical player — challenges everything. Runs down lost causes and is good in front of goal. So he’s a player that I see continue to do well for many years.”
Here’s a compilation of his top five goals: