Terrence Boyd went into the weekend knowing he had a challenging assignment on his hands. Not only was he facing German Bundesliga powerhouse Borussia Dortmund, but he was doing so without having registered a single shot on goal in his first two official games back from a lengthy injury layoff.
Some doubt creeped into his mind.
“You play Dortmund, you know it’s going to be way tougher than the other matches,” Boyd told SBI. “I haven’t even shot at the goal yet, so what’s going to happen now? Am I going to do an own goal?”
Boyd scored his first goal, on the opposing team, since Nov. 23, 2014 when he netted the opener in SV Darmstadt’s shocking 2-1 upset of Dortmund this past Sunday. The 25-year-old striker fired the ball home in the 21st minute, collecting a pass from the left and getting just enough of it to beat Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki.
It was not the cleanest or hardest of hits, mind you. Boyd smacked the ball into the ground with his left foot before it took a bounce that duped Burki. Nonetheless, the shot marked a momentous occasion for Boyd.
He had scored his first goal for Darmstadt and in the Bundesliga, and had done so after having to deal with frustrating knee issues that began when he tore his ACL in December 2014.
“When it went in it was just like a big relief,” said Boyd, who immediately went into his patented Cyclops goal celebration. “All the backpacks fell down. It was just a big relief.”
For Darmstadt, it was much more than that. The club is currently fighting the drop, and Boyd’s strike helped earn three much-needed points. Darmstadt still remains in the dungeon in the Bundesliga, but is now four points away from the relegation play-off and seven from outright safety.
Boyd knows that helping Darmstadt stay in Germany’s top flight will not be easy. He has witnessed firsthand over these first few weeks with the club how difficult it is when you are involved in a relegation battle, a first for him in his career.
Still, he is enjoying every moment of it. Boyd is back to doing what he loves and working on his craft again, something which was in doubt during his long and trying spell on the sidelines.
“The furthest I get sometimes is the midfield line because we’re (pinned) so way back, but you get used to it,” said Boyd. “It’s also a demand of other qualities that you’ve got to add to your skill set, but I’m happy right now. Even if I don’t score in the next games, I’m happy I’m back on the pitch, I’m playing in the Bundesliga, which has always been a dream of mine.
“Right now I’m living for the moment, living for the season and this is what I waited for one-and-a-half years when I couldn’t get on the pitch.”
While Boyd is just now playing in official matches again, he was back to full health last summer. He had to shake off the rust and regain his sharpness, of course, and did so in training and in second-team games with his former club RB Leipzig.
Boyd knew, however, that he needed to get back to playing on a more competitive level, so at the start of the winter he assessed his options. One that was on the table was moving from RB Leipzig to its sister club, the New York Red Bulls, who play a near-identical, high-press style of soccer.
There was a feeling-out process with the MLS club, which included Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch making a trip to Portugal in January to talk to Boyd instead of being at the annual combine. The forward ultimately turned down the chance to move to the United States, though.
It just wasn’t the right time for him in his career or for his growing family at this point in their lives.
“We were talking about, me and my girlfriend,” said Boyd, who also has a seven-month-old daughter. “We’ve been to Jersey and saw the training facilities. Jesse Marsch was in training camp with Red Bull Leipzig when we went to Portugal and we sat down with him and I told him, ‘One day, I’d love to come to New York because it’s so familiar, it’s a nice a club.’
“But the thing was I wanted to prove myself further. One day I want to come to the U.S. and play there. The bad part is, if you choose to come now, you don’t know what club you’re going to end up with. I have to be fair. My girlfriend said she’s not ready to move there, because all of her friends and family. But one day I’d love to come to New York.”
He would also like to return to the U.S. Men’s National Team at some point, though he is not concerning himself too much right now with the idea of getting back to playing international games. In fact, Boyd has not even spoken with new U.S. head coach Bruce Arena yet nor has the 6-foot-1 striker even considered getting a chance to play at this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“The first time that I thought about it is right now,” said Boyd when asked about possibly playing in the regional tournament. “I know there’s a Gold Cup, of course, but actually we’re planning a vacation right now with my girlfriend and the family. Of course, my girlfriend knows if there’s ever a call-up and we have something planned I’m going to (freaking) cancel it.
“But it’s not in the back of the head. I’ll just act like I’m not getting called up, I’m not in the plans. If it does come true, then you’re way more surprised and way more happy, but right now I don’t think about it.”
Boyd’s mind right now is solely on Darmstadt. He wants to help the last-place club stay up by any means necessary, even if that requires him expending more energy tracking back than running forward or clearing more balls than he puts into the back of the net.
Scoring a few goals like the one he delivered this past Sunday certainly would not hurt their cause. It would not hurt his either.
“If you succeed at your club level, eventually they’re going to find you when it comes to the national team,” said Boyd. “I’m just patient. They’ve got lots of good strikers, tons of strikers up front, and you know when it comes to depth chart wise, I fell down quite a bit, went out of the picture I’ve been out for so long.
“Right now I’m 100 percent focused on the club level. We’ll see what happens. I’m not worried. You know I’m hyped when it comes to representing your country, but you can’t think about it because if you do you make yourself crazy. You have to focus on your every-day work at the club.”