WOOD AND 1860 SINK BAYERN IN DERBY WIN
Bobby Wood continued his impressive run with 1860 Munich's U23 team on Tuesday night, netting the team's first goal and helping to set up their winning score as they claimed bragging rights over city rivals FC Bayern in a much-anticipated meeting of the two organizations' second teams.
Since the relegation of 1860's primary squad from the German top flight in 2004, the only meetings between these two fierce rivals had been amongst their respective second teams in the lower tiers of the German soccer pyramid.
Tuesday's Regionalliga derby was the first of such games in nearly four years, drawing a raucous crowd of more than 4000 die-hard fans of either team to the historical Grünwalder Stadion in Munich.
With both Wood and FC Bayern youth prospect Fabian Hürzeler having earned consistent playing in recent games time with their organizations' respective U23 teams, the game promised to showcase two of the two most talked about American youth players in Germany.
Houston-born Hürzeler was omitted from Bayern's gameday squad after appearing as a substitute in their previous two games, likely in part due to the inclusion of Croatian international midfielder Danijel Pranjic in their starting lineup, however Wood assured that a decidedly American mark would be left on the game.
The red flares set off immediately before kickoff in the Bayern section had barely gone out when Wood silenced the home crowd with a third-minute goal.
Receiving the ball from Stefan Wannenwetsch just outside the area on the right side, he took a couple steps forward to set, and unleashed a blazing shot to the near post, just under Rouven Sattelmaier's reach.
"I wanted to come for the cross, but came in short," he described following the game. "I took the defender on, but he stayed back a little. I took a touch forward, shot it, and it went in."
Bayern were within inches of equalizing nine minutes later as French striker Saer Sene lined up for a 30-yard free kick straight out of center, and drove it perfectly to the lower right corner, where Vitus Eicher lunged out to block it for a corner at the last second.
Pranjic, who proved to be one of the standout players for the hosts, also nearly brought his team back in the 18th minute when he took a long-range crack from the midfield towards the left side of goal, forcing Eicher into yet another diving save.
Three minutes later, 1860's number-ten Gökhan Gümüssu tried a through-ball to Wood, which was initially misjudged by central defender Cüneyt Köz and rolled by, however Bayern keeper Sattelmaier was barely able to reach it first preventing a potentially-lethal one-on-one.
While 1860 looked the more likely to create a goal, with Wood's point-blank shot at the half-hour falling within Sattelmaier's grasp, a defensive miscue by the Lions allowed their hosts to equalize in the 34th minute.
Bayern midfielder Niklas Horn struck a short cross from the left side of the area with multiple attackers storming in. Eicher managed to partially deflect to the edge of the six-yard box, however as Jonatan Kotzke rushed in to clear it to safety, he tripped up Japanese winger Takashi Usami, with the referee having little choice but to point to the spot.
Sene claimed the penalty, taking a short stutter step on his approach before sending his shot lightly to the right side, fooling Eicher who had dove in the opposite direction.
The remainder of the first half and the early parts of the second showed a tough midfield battle with occasional forays forward by either team broken up by a series of needless turnovers, however with fighting tooth and nail to please their respective half of the audience.
1860 had the first close chance after the break in the 52nd minute, when an outswinging corner from the left side was redirected with a snap header by Kotzke towards the right post, but blocked with a quick reaction by Sattelmaier.
Nine minutes later, Köz attempted to loop a 30-yard free kick from the left side to the near post which was just a touch wide of the mark.
Three minutes past the hour mark, Wood was again in the thick of the attack as the Lions roared to their eventual winner. Receiving the ball near the midfield, Wood advanced a few steps forward before catching Maximilian Knuth in stride up the left side. The winger advanced with the ball to the endline and sent a cross through the six-yard box, where Willsch stormed on a far-post run to smack it over the line for the 2-1 lead.
"It was a counter-attack so they were staying high on the field, I turned and saw Max who was right there with me. I played him the ball, he put in a good cross and Marius scored it."
Bayern pressed unsuccessfully for another equalizer, but were continually stifled by the opposing defense and several fine saves from Eicher, until both teams made a series of changes within the final 15 minutes to keep - or turn - the game in their favor.
Wood's fine day on the field came to an end in the 76th minute as Markus Ziereis entered the field as a fresh pair of legs, then four minutes later, a Bayern double-substitution saw defender Köz and central midfielder Dale Jennings depart in favor of attacking options Daniel Steimel and Pascal Reinhardt.
With nine minutes left, a give-and-go between Bastian Müller and Sene saw the former lob a short pass forward to the Frenchman into the danger area in a slick combination, but the defenders were quick to the mark and safely cleared the ball before he could get off a shot.
Five minutes later, Sene took on several defenders to work into the left side of the area, made a spin move to gain space then dropped the ball off to Dennis Chessa, who could have done better with his shot which was too close to Eicher and no problem for the keeper to safely grab.
1860 remained dangerous in spurts, most notably with three minutes left in regulation when a free kick from the right rolled through towards the far post, where Daniel Jais cracked a shot back towards the far post which rolled just inches in front of the goal-line, and too far away any of his teammates to poke over the line.
The final chance for the hosts was another wasted opportunity, as Pranjic took the ball on the right and cut towards the middle before lobbing it forward, where Reinhardt's weak header was straight into Eicher's arms.
Moments later, the final whistle blew to confirm the win to the Lions, setting off a massive celebration amongst the team and their crowd of fans, and sending the Bayern faithful quickly to the exits in dejection.
While not grown up in the Munich area like many of his teammates, the greater significance of the win to both fans and players in no way escapes Wood, as it gives them a bit of extra swagger in the city.
"It's bragging rights," he grinned afterwards. "I've not grown up with [the rivalry] as the other guys, but it's nice to have bragging rights in the city."
Despite having played against Bayern several times at the junior level, this was his first to net a goal against the local rivals.
"I've played against Bayern with the U19s and U17s, but this is my first time to score against them."
"Of course we're going into it with more confidence now," he evaluated of the effect of picking up two straight wins in the space of four days. "Before last Friday's win, we hadn't won any games and the team moral was down, but we're more happy, we're winning, and hopefully we can win the next one too."
Wood will likely continue his run in 1860's U23 team through the international break. He will face fellow American youth international Parker Walsh and Karlsruher SC II on Saturday, and his next chance to play with the first team will come on Friday, October 14 when they head north to visit Hansa Rostock.