Wood’s Copa development bodes well for U.S. future

Bobby Wood (#7) was one of the USA's standout performers at the Copa America Centenario. (Photo: Mexsport)

GLENDALE, Arizona – There was little doubt that United States forward Bobby Wood’s stock rose during the Copa America Centenario.

Wood scored only once in five games and was forced to sit out the semifinal loss to Argentina through suspension. Yet, his overall performance impressed observers and, more importantly, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

"Definitely, you see players coming through start to bloom; if it's a Bobby Wood, a [DeAndre] Yedlin, a John Brooks and others becoming stronger,” Klinsmann commented after the Americans dropped a 1-0 decision to Colombia in the match for third at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday.

Wood scored his lone Copa goal in the 4-0 win over Costa Rica. With his speed and work ethic, he has proved a viable option to Jozy Altidore, who missed the Copa America Centenario with a hamstring injury.

The 23-year-old forward felt he was fortunate just to get the opportunity to play as much as he did.

"I'm lucky that Jurgen and my teammates gave me a lot of trust, and helped me develop into this squad," Wood expressed. "I'm just trying to pay them back."

After the USA rattled off three consecutive wins to reach the final four, the recent Hamburg addition admitted his expectations for the team had changed.

"Before coming into the tournament, I think making it to the semis, we would have been really proud," remarked Wood. "But after the way we played leading up to the semis, a lot of us felt like there was more to gain. It's a learning lesson. We've got to move on and look forward."

Wood now will look ahead to his next challenge in the German Bundesliga with Hamburg, a step up from second division side Union Berlin, where he netted 17 goals during the 2015/16 season.

If he continues filling the net against better teams and players, the 24-time capped Wood will likely find himself in the reckoning for a continued starting role when FIFA World Cup qualifying resumes in September.