Terrence Boyd: 'I know I'm dangerous in the box'

The 23-year-old striker is hoping that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann recognizes his scoring ability in order to get a spot on the upcoming World Cup roster.
Before most training sessions at Austrian club Rapid Vienna, two figures can be spotted out on the pitch. They are of similar height, but it would be easy to pick the teacher and student as they run through several drills. The one doing most of the talking is Carsten Jancker, now a Rapid assistant coach but also a former Germany international striker and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich. His attentive student is Terrence Boyd, who is hoping to join Jancker as a World Cup player.

Born in Germany but having qualified for the United States through his American father, Boyd knows it will take more than a few additional sessions to guarantee a spot in Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. squad at the upcoming World Cup. But if those extra minutes result in a few extra goals for Boyd with Rapid, that could prove the difference.

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“There are a lot of good strikers up front for the national team now. I just have to focus on myself, just play my game and score as many goals as I can get,” he told Goal ahead of linking up in Frankfurt with the U.S., where the nation prepared for a friendly with Ukraine on Wednesday. “Hopefully it will be enough. If not, I have to work harder.”
In order to earn his place on the U.S. national team roster, Terrence Boyd will have to compete with a number of strikers for only three or four spots. Below is a list of potential candidates to make the team.

Jozy Altidore, Sunderland

Altidore has struggled since moving from AZ in the Dutch league to English Premier League side Sunderland last summer. But despite scoring just one league goal all year, the 24-year-old is almost a lock in Jurgen Klinsmann's lineup.

Aron Johannsson, AZ Alkmaar

Johannsson has been on a scoring tear all season, leading his club with 21 goals in 36 matches in 2013-14. Although he is somewhat new to the U.S. player pool, Klihsmann have have a tough time passing on the scoring machine.

Eddie Johnson, D.C. United

Johnson exploded back into the U.S. player pool in 2013, scoring four goals in 10 World Cup qualifying matches. With the faith Klinsmann has showed him over the past year, it'd be difficult to see Johnson not in Brazil this summer.

Chris Wondolowski, SJ Earthquakes

Wondolowski knows how to find the net. Two years ago, he set an MLS record with 27 goals and he scored five in last summer's Gold Cup. At 31 years old, this will be his last shot at a World Cup but his chances are slim.

Juan Agudelo, Utrecht

On loan with Utrecht from Stoke City, Agudelo finally fulfilled his dream of playing in Europe. Klinsmann wants his players in the best leagues and Agudelo is proving that he's ready to take on the world's best. However, he has only been called up for two friendlies in two years.

-Mike Slane

Hard work is something for which Boyd believes he now has the right appreciation as a consequence of his move from Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team to Rapid in June 2012. After scoring 17 goals in 42 appearances in his debut season in Austria, he has 15 from 29 this campaign.

“I think I got more mature when it comes to living more professional. Back when I was at Dortmund's reserve team, things were going easy,” said Boyd, who came closest to a debut with his former team when he was an unused substitute against Cologne during the 2011-12 season. “This time you have to work yourself - you have to stay longer with the coaches, go to the gym before practice.”

Central to that has been his work “almost every day” with Jancker. Now 39, Jancker was a key figure for Bayern over several seasons, during which he helped the club win four Bundesliga titles. He made 33 appearances and scored 10 goals for the German national team. At 6-foot-4, the former target man is two inches taller than Boyd, and their similar height makes him a fine example for the 23-year-old to follow.

“He played the same role as me, a central striker,” Boyd said. “He always reminds me to play like a center in basketball, you know? You never see Shaquille O'Neal dribbling... Play easy, don't try to do too many things. Just play your game, focus on yourself. Do your job on the pitch. Take one, two touches and get rid of the ball, get back to the box.

"Once I'm in the box, I think like I can't be stopped. I know I'm dangerous in the box. Every hint and every tip I get, I take it. I'm just grateful I have an assistant coach like him.”

If Boyd's approach is simple, where he might fit in to Klinsmann's plans is not. Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson seem certain to fill two of the striker spots for the U.S. in Brazil, leaving Boyd to fight it out against the likes of Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski and Eddie Johnson for the remaining spots. Boyd is at least in form, going into camp with the U.S. with two goals in his last two games with Rapid.

“We have many strikers up front. I would compare myself and my way of playing almost like Jozy's way. He's dribbling more than me, but we are heavy-ass strikers,” he adds with a laugh.

“We've got those little technical guys like Aron. I'm like a different type of striker. I'm always dangerous but I'm still looking for my first goal (for the U.S.). When I'm on the pitch, I'm always trying to get to the goal.”

Should Boyd receive a call for Brazil, he will face the nation of his birth. It will not be the first time. He was one of a handful of German-Americans to feature for the U.S. against Joachim Löw's side in a friendly in June 2013. Then, it was mostly pride on the line. Come June 26, when they meet in each country's final Group G match, the stakes will be infinitely higher. Any ties to Germany will be put aside.

“When we played Germany back in the summer, it was just a different game for us German-Americans because we grew up there and all our friends and families back home were watching,” he said. “But that's it, you know what I mean? I think it's the same situation for all our Mexican-Americans when they play Mexico. Of course (it gives you motivation), but every national team game... you don't have to motivate me for national team games.”