AMSTERDAM—Bobby Wood says he's found a new lease on soccer life since arriving at Union Berlin this summer, and it shows.
The US international has started all 10 2.Bundesliga games for his new employers this season, notching four goals and two assists. Were it not for an early handful of near misses, big saves and woodwork deflections, Wood easily could have chalked up several more.
As is, Wood sits tied for seventh in the league scoring chart, working from a goal total that already stands as his career-best in the German second flight. He says the key is nothing more than finally enjoying a regular run of playing time.
"I already have more minutes played than I ever had [with one club in a season]," said Wood, in a phone interview from Berlin with MLSsoccer.com. "Playing week after week, you learn a lot. But that's the way to learn, and I'm glad the coach and the club believes in me.
"That's what every player wants, so I'm happy. It's been the right move for me so far."
For Wood, consistent playing time doesn't just mean sharpness and a fast learning curve. As an attacker who likes to run the break, work combinations and bust seams, the 22-year-old has been able to take advantage of familiarity among a regular group of teammates.
Wood split last season between 1860 Munich and Erzgebirge Aue, with plenty of stress along the way. Playing time with the Lions was always struggle. Even his 21 appearances in 2013-14 only yielded 597 minutes of action.
Wood's longest string of 2.Bundesliga starts in five seasons at Allianz Arena was four matches, at the start of last term. The consistency has enabled Wood to sense what his teammates will do, and vice-versa.
"Honestly, it always helps when you have a better connection, when you go out with the same players," Wood said. "It's part of the game."
Wood won't be along when the US national team battles Mexico in Saturday's CONCACAF Cup showdown, but understands that it's an occasion to lean on the veterans. He'll watch from afar and hold primary focus on helping his new club climb into the better half of the table.
Union Berlin have won just two games thus far, largely because holding leads has become a losing game of hot potato. In each of four losses and four draws, the capital crew have conceded the fatal goal inside the final 20 minutes.
Wood says it's become a frustration, and as such, a sticking point in the team's preparations the rest of the way this season. They want to break this habit and move closer to the top.
"Our season started slow, but we have to just keep cool heads," Wood said. "Every game we've lost so far, we were ahead. We just have to learn from our mistakes to not play 60 minutes, but to play all 90."