Bobby Wood missed the U.S. national team’s matches against Honduras and Panama after sustaining a back injury just before the international break. The two weeks between matches appeared to do the striker plenty of good, as he recovered for Hamburg in time to go the full 90 in his side’s 2-1 Bundesliga victory over Koln.
Wood didn’t have his best outing in the contest, but contributed to his side’s opener. He had a penalty shout on the play, but as he went down, the ball fell to Nicolai Muller, who buried the opportunity. Wood was credited with an assist on the play. It was actually his first assist of the season in the Bundesliga, to go along with his five goals for Hamburg in the league.
It was a big result for Wood and his teammates, as it moved Hamburg up to 14th in the Bundesliga table and out of the relegation zone by a point over Mainz and Augsburg. A tough turnaround is coming for the club though, as it visits Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
CORONA HEATING UP FOR TIJUANA
In Liga MX, a guy who hasn’t gotten a U.S. national team look in a while appears to be heating up. Joe Corona picked up an assist in a 3-3 draw with Atlas on Sunday. The midfielder also assisted on a goal in his side’s loss to Pachuca on March 3, which was his last Liga MX game due to the combination of Mexico’s referee strike, a red card suspension and the international break.
Corona had a corner-kick delivery put home in spectacular fashion by Aviles Hurtado, who whipped a bicycle kick into the top corner for the finish.
@SportsCenter Here's a better look at the corner kick by #USMNT player @JoeCorona15 and Aviles Hurtado's excellent and vibrant goal! #GoXolos #WeAreSoccer pic.twitter.com/w2JNq0OjJV — @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) April 2, 2017
Corona’s national team hopes had dimmed under Jurgen Klinsmann with his last call-up in September 2015. The former national team boss could hardly be faulted for that though - Corona’s league form had seen his playing time dwindle in Liga MX. He did feature for Dorados earlier this season, but that was in Mexico’s second division.
Now back in Liga MX with Tijuana, Corona appears to have played himself into a consistent starting spot for Miguel Herrera’s side. He came on as a sub in the first two games of the Clausura, scoring in his second appearance. Since then he has started all but one game for Tijuana in league play - the aforementioned suspension just before the international break.
We know Bruce Arena and his staff watch Tijuana with Paul Arriola and Michael Orozco both getting call-ups during the March qualifiers, so Corona is being seen by U.S. scouts. With the midfielder largely playing in a wider position, and the U.S. depth at those positions untested, there’s certainly a possibility for the 26-year-old to play himself back into the picture.
VILLAFANA CONTINUES UPWARD TREND
Jorge Villafana was basically the forgotten man at Santos Laguna for months. In fact, his only real action for most of the winter was playing in a pair of friendlies for the U.S. national team during the January camp.
However, things appear to have changed for the left back. He’s now started Santos Laguna’s last two Liga MX games, sandwiched around a pair of starts for the U.S. national team. In the left-back mix before he was getting games, the fact Villafana appears to have worked his way into Chepo de la Torre’s plans only bodes well for his national team future.
DISKERUD MAKES ALLSVENSKAN DEBUT
The Swedish Allsvenskan kicked off this past weekend and NYCFC's exiled midfielder Mix Diskerud got the start for his new side IFK Gothenburg against Malmo FF. It was his second appearance for the Swedish side, as he came on as a substitute in a 2-1 loss in the Svenska Cup on March 11.
Starting as one of Gothenburg’s two holding midfielders, Diskerud went 87 minutes in the 1-1 draw, completing 74 percent of his passes. He made two interceptions, a tackle and was credited with a shot and a key pass.
Given his struggles in MLS, and the depth at the central midfield position in the national team pool, Diskerud likely is a long way off from another call-up. But if he wants to get back in the picture, he’ll need to make the most of his loan in Sweden.
INJURY ROUND UP
John Brooks was forced to pull out of the national team for the Panama game after being removed from the Honduras win with a sinus infection. It’s possible that withdrawal may have been a result of club pressure, given Hertha Berlin played Friday against Hoffenheim, meaning Brooks would have had a very short turnaround for him to play in Panama on Tuesday night and then make a flight across the Atlantic to be ready three days later.
Brooks did get the start and go 90 for Hertha in the contest, which his side lost 3-1.
Eric Lichaj, who was in contention for a place on the March roster but also was injured just before the break, returned to action for English Championship side Nottingham Forest in a 1-1 draw with Preston. Lichaj went the full 90.
Geoff Cameron did not play or dress for Stoke City’s visit to Leicester City, a 2-0 defeat for the Potters. A thigh that which kept Cameron out of the Panama game did not heal in time.
Cameron wasn't alone in being treated with caution after returning to Europe. Christian Pulisic came on as a late substitute in Borussia Dortmund's 1-1 draw with Schalke, while Tim Ream was also a stoppage-time sub for Fulham in his side's 1-0 victory over Rotherham.