WOOD LOOKING FOR BREAKOUT YEAR
Even though only 21 years old, Bobby Wood has already endured a number of tumultuous ups and downs in his young professional career.
First joining the academy of 2.Bundesliga team 1860 Munich in 2007, the 21-year-old forward successfully worked his way up to the first team by January 2011, only to be derailed by multiple knee injuries that jeopardized his career later that year.
He managed to successfully recover and had made 44 first-team appearances heading into this season for die Löwen, but he still recorded just three goals and three assists. While these aren't great statistics for an attacking player, Wood said they are a bit misleading.
"I really don't look at those statistics because half of those are one-minute entrances," Wood told Yanks Abroad. "I do want this to be my breakout year, and I'm confident that it will be. I just have to work hard and keep my head up and see how things go."
That resilient philosophy has seemed to work out for the American so far, who played the full 90 minutes, recorded an assist and wreaked havoc on the left wing in the early goings of 1860 Munich's 3-2 opening loss at Kaiserslautern. He also went the distance in 1860 Munich's second match - a 3-0 loss to RasenBallsport Leipzig, although it was an afternoon the whole team would prefer forget.
These two 90-minute performances followed a solid preseason in which Wood scored two goals while moving from center forward to the left wing.
Along with the hard work, Wood pointed to a new and perhaps more stable situation at the club as a reason he should get regular time on the field more often.
Last season, die Sechziger went through three coaches, and Wood found himself largely out of the plans of the second man in charge, Friedhelm Funkel. Overall, the American started five and played in a total of 21 matches, with six short cameos coming in as a substitute after the 80th minute.
The latest coach, Dutchman Ricardo Moniz, and his staff has taken a liking to the Irvine, Calif., native, and with a new sporting director in Gerhard Poshner, he's noticed a difference in the upper management.
"They don't really care about what the press says or anything like that - just whoever gives the best performance will play, and that's how has been so far," Wood said. "I feel like the past couple of seasons it hasn't been like that. We've had a lot of divas, and I think things are different now."
Some things are the same, however. The team has spent the past 10 seasons in Germany's second tier, and every year, the goal for fans and upper management is to earn promotion back to the Bundesliga.
Before the start of the season, Moniz declared his team will win the 2. Bundesliga, but the collapse in the team's opener and a follow-up loss to the division's newcomers has put a damper on those expectations.
Wood admitted 1860 Munich has a tough task ahead of it if the team wishes to be in the running, especially after dropping its first two matches. The 5-foot-10 American cited favorites such as Kaiserslautern, Nuremberg, Greuther Fürth, Union Berlin and Düsseldorf to be in the mix at the end of the season.
"We have to be competing the whole season, and then at the end of the season, the last 10 games, we just have to make run," Wood said. "Those are the teams that will have the best chance, the most consistent."
Whatever 1860 Munich does this season, Wood is hoping to return to the United States national team fold. Wood made his debut last August in a 4-3 friendly win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, coming in as a substitute in the 87th minute.
Wood had nothing but good things to say about the experience and coach Jürgen Klinsmann, whom he said did well with the U.S. squad during the 2014 World Cup.
"The players were a lot nicer than I thought, and the team's really tight-knitted," Wood said. "I was not expecting it to be like that, and everyone got along. It was just a really nice experience, and it's something that kind of motivates me to just be able to experience that again - to get back there and show that I can play with them."
The U.S. staff seems to be keeping an eye on Wood, with the Californian saying that he had a short talk with Matthias Hamann, the U.S. scout in Germany, about possibly making the selection for the friendly against the Czech Republic in September as long as he logs some minutes at the club level.
Wood definitely has understood the message, saying his main goal is to see the field and be successful with 1860 Munich. He expects the rest will take care of itself.
"I know that if I do play, then sooner or later, I will hopefully get a chance to play with the national team again," Wood said. "But right now, my goal is to just play with the club, score goals, assists - do whatever I can to get playing time and develop as a player."