It had been a while for Bobby Wood.
While the Hamburg striker had netted a penalty in his side’s embarrassing DFB-Pokal defeat to third-division Osnabruck, Wood had not scored in the Bundesliga since March of last season – a span of 10 league games.
He broke that duck on Friday, bagging his side’s second goal at Cologne, pouncing on a ball that came to him in the area and delivering a composed finish. Hamburg went on to win the contest 3-1, their second win in as many Bundesliga games.
Last season was a struggle for Hamburg, and while Wood’s work rate earned him plaudits from fans, and the club’s owners, he still only scored five times in the German top-flight in 2016-17.
But thus far in 2017-18, Hamburg has shown promise, starting the season with two wins. Friday’s win was especially impressive, as it came on the road against Cologne and saw the away side deliver three goals.
It may be a good sign for those who hope Wood can improve his goal total from last season. The striker was often isolated and starved for touches last season. A better, more cohesive Hamburg attack should provide Wood with more opportunities to prove himself a quality Bundesliga finisher, in addition to a hard worker.
For the next few weeks however, Wood’s focus will return to the United States national team. There he’ll be joined by Christian Pulisic, who went 90 minutes in Borussia Dortmund’s win over Hertha Berlin, and Fabian Johnson, who received a 10-minute appearance in his return from injury for Borussia Monchengladbach.
DISKERUD EXTENDS LOAN STAY
In 21 appearances for the club, all of them starts, Diskerud has scored three goals and added three assists. His performance has been good enough that the club wanted to extend his stay. NYCFC obliged, meaning Diskerud will remain in Sweden through the fall.
“Just as we thought and hoped, Mix has become better every match he played and adds incredibly much to our team with his skill and experience,” Gothenburg manager Mats Gren told the club’s official website. “There are a number of clubs that have been looking for him and we are humbly grateful that New York City and City Group, who owns his rights, helped us in our desire to keep Mix in the fall.”
And Diskerud himself hasn’t given up on his national team ambitions, telling the website: “"My ambition is undoubtedly to take back my place on the national team and this is a good place and environment to be for that matter. The players in this squad understand all the importance of each other. Whether you're injured, starting or sitting on the bench, everyone gives everything to our workouts and keeps mood and quality up. There is character and the right mentality throughout the IFK Gothenburg A-Group.”
Of course, the 26-year-old Diskerud remains far from the national team, especially given how other players who are playing in higher quality leagues are struggling to break into the squad themselves. That said, if Diskerud keeps playing well in Sweden then perhaps another opportunity will come, in MLS or elsewhere, to showcase his talents on a brighter stage.
CARTER-VICKERS, GOOCH LOOK FOR CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCE
With the transfer deadline approaching, Americans who aren't playing need to see whether they need to make moves to change that. One player, Cameron Carter-Vickers, did exactly that last week, heading on loan from Tottenham to Sheffield United of the Championship.
Somewhat surprisingly, Carter-Vickers was in the 18 this week for Sheffield's 3-1 win over Derby, despite only joining the squad late in the week. Even if he did not play, it suggests Sheffield United rate what they’ve seen of the defender. If he can prove himself in training, Carter-Vickers should eventually see an opportunity for the newly-promoted side.
Elsewhere in the Championship, another young American is looking for a breakthrough. Lynden Gooch took advantage of a mid-week substitute appearance in the League Cup to bag his first Sunderland goal — the winner that allowed the Black Cats to advance.
“I’ve dreamt about this moment since I was a 10-year-old boy when I came over here on trial, so to finally get that goal was amazing,” Gooch told Sunderland’s official website.
He later added: “When the gaffer told me I was playing my main focus was to impress him so I can break into the team, and hopefully I’ve done that.”
Gooch did not start in Saturday’s loss to Barnsley, but did come on for a 35-minute cameo — his longest appearance in the Championship this season. Prior to that, he had just a pair of six-minute cameos.
The 21-year-old attacker seemed to win over manager David Moyes last season, making four starts in the Premier League before going down with a serious injury. He’ll have to prove himself once more under new manager Simon Grayson, but the League Cup winner is a good start.
HYNDMAN MAKES STRIDES IN RETURN
Emerson Hyndman hasn’t quite made it back from the foot injury that ended his successful spring loan to Rangers prematurely, but he continues to inch closer to a return.
The 21-year-old midfielder made the bench for Bournemouth’s 2-1 League Cup win over Birmingham City last week. Though he did not play, it was the first time Hyndman had been in anyone’s 18 since suiting up for Rangers in a 5-1 loss to Celtic on April 29.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has spoken glowingly of Hyndman in the past, especially during his loan stint with Rangers, suggesting he believes the midfielder has a future with the Premier League club. Unfortunately, Hyndman has had a knack for getting hurt at the wrong time — he’s missed substantial time in both preseasons he’s spent with the club since his move from Fulham.
"It's been a frustrating injury for Emerson because there have been days where he has trained really well and felt really good and then a couple of days later, he has felt something, so he has had to take a step back," Howe told the Bournemouth Echo on August 18.
"This is the first time that, hopefully, he is nearing full fitness."
With the transfer deadline approaching this week, it will be interesting to see if Hyndman finds himself out on loan again, perhaps to a side in the Championship, to ensure he gets playing time.
If he doesn’t move, it may be a sign he is set to slowly work his way back into the fold at Bournemouth, and perhaps make his Premier League debut.