Entering Tuesday night’s friendly, Bobby Wood needed something to go right in the worst way. Mired in a relegation-threatened campaign with Hamburg, Wood had scored just two goals in 21 appearances entering U.S. Men’s National Team camp.
For a striker, confidence is key, and goals are the key to confidence. Wood’s performance on Tuesday may have been a shaky one but, in the end, he got that confidence-boosting goal.
Wood scored a much-needed penalty kick shortly before halftime of the USMNT’s win over Paraguay. The finish was Wood’s first since the their win over Panama last October as both the forward and his club have slipped in a big way throughout the Bundesliga campaign.
“I was very pleased because Bobby and his club are going through a tough time,” head coach Dave Sarachan said. “I think he felt relief coming in here. It was fresh for him to get out of that environment I think.”
Hamburg currently sits dead last in the Bundesliga, seven points out of a relegation playoff place. The forward has started 15 matches for the club this season but, most recently, Wood has been used as in a substitute role as the club looks to battle against relegation.
On Tuesday, Wood played like a player lacking form and confidence. His runs were dangerous, but mistimed, as Wood was called offside on three occasions. Wood struggled in one-on-one situations and failed to fire a shot other than his successful penalty kick.
Still, that penalty kick should provide some measure of comfort, as should a winning performance.
“He had some hits and misses in the game, but he converted the penalty and he got rewarded with a goal,” Sarachan said. “He’s always going to give you the hard work. It’s just the finer things that need to get cleaned up. I hope he takes this game and goes back to Hamburg with more confidence.”