When it left his foot, the Germans had to be thinking about that old idiom: Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, so there’s no way this young nobody scores another game-winner. Sorry guys, but that’s actually a myth.
Lightning, or in this case, 22-year-old Honolulu-born BOBBY WOOD (do you mind if I go all-caps with his name? I think he deserves it), can absolutely strike twice — and it did on Wednesday in the USMNT’s friendly vs. World Cup champs Germany. Just five days before Wood had punched in a 90th minute cross to beat the Netherlands 4-3. That one was all about positioning and a little luck. Watch as he follows the play, using his speedy agility, to find space in the box just as Jordan Morris plays it in.
If that goal was finishing an alley-oop, his 87th minute stunner yesterday was a Steph Curry dagger from almost half-court. But I’m getting ahead of myself; there was plenty of intriguing action before Wood played the hero yet again.
With both sides starting a handful of World Cup contributors — Ozil, Gotze, Schurrle, and Schweinsteiger for Germany and Bradley, Johannsson, and Fabian Johnson for the US — this was not merely a B-team friendly.
The Germans, who always have class no matter who is in their lineup, made quick work of a disorganized United States defense. Mix Diskerud got beat in the midfield, Fabian Johnson refused to stop the ball, and Timmy Chandler completely lost Gotze, who stood all alone and easily slotted it past Brad Guzan. Next time, might want to stay a little closer to the dude whose goal won the World Cup last July.
And yet, there were bright points even in that first half for the Americans. Johannsson was streaking down the right side, his pace causing issues for the Germany back line. Guzan was spry in making key stops, even as his defenders couldn’t get it together. Michael Bradley was controlling things in the midfield, using his expert touch and pitch-perfect passing to give his side options.
It all broke red, white, and blue in the 41st minute when, following an extended period of American possession, Bradley found space and chipped one of his wonderful lob passes over the top to a racing Diskerud. Mix perfectly settled the ball down before reenacting the Crane Kick scene from The Karate Kid. How perfect that Johnny from Cobra Kai even has German blonde hair.
The goal was magnificent on both parts, the kind you wished you saw more of from the USMNT. It’s odd that it came after so many uninterrupted US passes, because Germany spent so much time with the ball in this match. Even with limited possession, Bradley and Diskerud were highly influential. You can bet Klinsmann is ecstatic this morning that these two worked the midfield so well.
The second half proved the Americans were here to win. Despite ceding much of the possession to the technically proficient Germans, it was the US that got the lion’s share of the quality scoring chances, including a couple that should have been converted. At one point, Bradley had the ball wide open in the middle of the box, but his shot unfortunately struck Zieler’s (the German keeper) leg.
All of these missed opportunities just meant that BOBBY WOOD had to sub on and save the day. In the 87th minute, Brad Evans dished a long pass to Wood, who had a surprising amount of space a few yards outside the box. His first touch and turn were a thing of beauty, tossing off his misdirected defender. Then it was time for a left-footed rocket fired just inside the left post.
You could be excused for shrugging off Wood’s Dutch winner as mostly a “right place, right time” poacher’s goal. This, though, was something else entirely. This was an immensely talented striker realizing his potential at the ideal moment. I’m not trying to prop up BOBBY WOOD as a United States Soccer Savior – I mean, these two goals were his first two in a US shirt. However, the ability to come up huge late in matches is something the USMNT hasn’t seen much, so the more promising young talents showing off like this, the better.
Sure, our defense was napping on the first goal and Germany, in general, still dictated the run of play. This makes sense, considering the players they had on the field. What should be exciting for US fans is the playmaking display despite the gap in on-field class. Seizing victory over two world soccer powers in one week away from home proves that lightning, and BOBBY WOOD, certainly can strike twice.