Maybe Bobby Wood just likes playing Borussia Monchengladbach.
Less than two weeks ago, Wood found the back of the net in the DFB-Pokal match against that side, albeit a consolation goal in stoppage time that just gave Hamburg a slightly nicer-looking 2-1 defeat which sent the team out of the cup.
However, on Saturday Wood again notched a late goal against Gladbach. This time it couldn’t have been more important as it proved to be the difference in a 2-1 Hamburg win.
Wood showed impressive resilience and composure on the play, getting back to his feet after badly losing out on an aerial challenge, then having the patience to wait for a desperate defender to slide past him and the keeper to commit before delivering the finish. If he didn’t, odds are the chance gets blocked.
The goal brings Wood up to five league goals and nine in all competitions this season. That Wood is finding his form now is good news for Hamburg, which remained in 16th place and in a relegation playoff spot with the win, but also the U.S. national team with the next set of qualifiers nearly at hand.
As an in-season and in-form striker, Wood is making a pretty strong argument to Bruce Arena that he should be in the XI against Honduras on March 24.
MIAZGA GETS ASSIST
Matt Miazga’s run of games continued at Eredivisie side Vitesse on Friday. The center back went 90 minutes for the fifth straight contest in Vitesse’s 5-0 win over Sparta Rotterdam. He also picked up an assist in the contest.
The assist came off a corner, with Miazga challenging for a header on a near-post run. He didn’t seem to get much of it, but it fell to fellow center back Guram Kashia, who finished off the chance.
Given the return of Geoff Cameron and the play of other center backs in the January camp, it seems unlikely this run of games will be enough to get Miazga back in the picture for the March qualifiers. But if he keeps it up, the center back may be in contention for a spot in the Gold Cup.
STANDOUTS LACKING AMONG FINAL AUDITIONS
With Arena set to name his roster for the qualifiers this week, many players who might be on the fringe had to be looking for strong performances to give the coach something to think about. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great week for many of those options.
Julian Green was specifically named as a player Arena’s staff would be looking at this week. He returned to the starting lineup for Stuttgart, but went 58 minutes before being replaced. His substitute, Daniel Ginczek, ended up scoring Stuttgart’s equalizer in the 1-1 draw against Bochum.
Eric Lichaj, in the mix for a fullback spot for the national team, went 66 minutes for Nottingham Forest in their 1-0 loss to Burton and did not stand out.
Also in the English Championship, Tim Ream did stand out, in a way, but for all the wrong reasons. The center back took a penalty kick over 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon with the teenager on a hat trick, and missed. Ream did later apologize, saying it wasn’t his decision, and Arena likely isn’t calling up Ream based on his spot-kick abilities.
In Mexico, it was more of a case of uncontrollable events for the likes of Paul Arriola, Michael Orozco and Jorge Villafana, as the referee strike cancelled all action in Liga MX over the weekend. That said, Arriola did score Wednesday night in the Copa MX to send Tijuana into the quarterfinals, and Villafana went 90 in Santos Laguna’s 3-1 win.
HYNDMAN IMPACTS OLD FIRM DERBY
Emerson Hyndman’s time at Rangers may end up just amounting to just a half season. However, he can say he influenced an Old Firm derby, thanks to his efforts in the latest one, a 1-1 draw between Celtic and Rangers.
With Celtic up 1-0 late, Hyndman hit a low shot toward the far post. Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon made the initial stop on Hyndman, but defender Clint Hill put the rebound home to equalize.
“It was really exciting for me with it being my first one," Hyndman told RangersTv.tv after the game. The boys were telling me about it before the game and the atmosphere was ridiculous, and to not be intimidated and to go and do my thing. It was a great experience, and all the boys put in a real shift."
In terms of pure form, there’s no question Hyndman has been one of the best Americans in Europe over the past two months. Has it been enough to force him into Arena’s plans for March? We’ll find out this week.