MIAMI—Bobby Wood is finally finding his groove with US national team as the squad begins preparing for two critical World Cup qualifying matches.
The forward, now in his fourth calendar year with the USMNT, started slowly with his national team, but many credit a move to Union Berlin in the 2.Bundesliga last year for jumpstarting his international form. After punching in 14 goals this season as a regular starter for Union Berlin, Wood is currently ranked third in the league in scoring and appears to be coming into his own.
Wood said he’s been playing at a better rhythm since joining Union Berlin. "I just think I am playing harder than I have," the 23-year-old told assembled reporters in training on Monday. "Scoring goals feels good – that is my job."
In five friendly match appearances between October 2014 and January 2015, the Honolulu native recorded zero goals and zero assists with just three shots on goal in 207 minutes of playing time for the US national team. But since last June, Wood has notched four goals in four games, including in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup versus Mexico last October and St. Vincent and the Grenadines last November in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match.
And entering more key competitive games for the USMNT, including Friday's World Cup qualifier on the road against Guatemala (10 pm ET, beIN Sports/NBC Universo), Wood says he's getting in the right mindset.
“European teams are more tactical, while Central American teams are just more physical,” he said. “You have to be ready mentally and physically to take that on.”
Wood's sustained run of good form, the best in his career to date, has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
“He’s another kid with a very bright future,” said Wood’s US teammate Clint Dempsey. “He just continues to score goals for the US team and for his club team at a blazing clip.”