Terrence Boyd Pushing for U.S. World Cup Spot
By Duncan Day
Jozy Altidore is a probable lock in the USMNT’s starting forward spot. Dutch Footballer of the Year nominee Aron Johannsson should also be situated in great position to make the World Cup roster. Eddie Johnson, despite his weak play in MLS, will surely act as the United States’ secondary hold-up man besides Altidore.
Another forward spot is available, however, and Terrence Boyd of Rapid Vienna is a prime candidate for the opening.
Boyd plays for a team that stands at second place in the Austrian Bundesliga, a monumental 21 points behind FC Red Bull Salzburg in the first spot. Last season, Vienna saw themselves finish in roughly the same spot, and Boyd led their attack. Right now, he understands his squad’s unchangeable rank.
“I think we pretty much set our sights knowing they (Red Bulls Salzburg) have a way more budget than us,” said Boyd, via a phone interview on Wednesday. “It's just such a big gap when it comes to the money and the players they have. We didn't really buy any players. We stuck together from last season.”
As for personal accolades, the U.S. international continues to impress in 2013-14 season. He’s currently tied for sixth in league goals, netting 13 scores in 27 appearances. In Europa League play, he’s buried five goals in eight starts.
The 23-year-old forward stays fairly grounded about his most recent triumphs, nonetheless. He’s scored two braces in two consecutive competitions, including a late-winner against Salzburg on Apr. 26.
“I was just training hard the whole season,” Boyd said. “Sometimes, I had stretches where I hadn't scored, and now I have a phase where I'm scoring, where I'm performing.
“The most important thing is that I know I'm getting better as a ballplayer, and I'm getting those goals right now.”
Brandishing wonderful form only about a month away from the World Cup, Boyd has a legitimate opportunity to perform in Brazil, despite his lack of experience on the international stage.
After all, Boyd’s main competitors for the U.S. include San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski and Stoke City loanee Juan Agudelo. Both players have gathered the majority of their playing time in MLS.
The distinction between Wondo, Agudelo and Boyd, though, is noticed through their productivity abroad. Wondo has totaled 19 caps and nine goals for the United States. Agudelo has amassed 18 appearances and two goals, while Boyd has stalked the pitch only 12 times, tallying no goals.
But these performances shouldn’t be a huge factor when the national team meets for the 30-man pre-World Cup camp in two weeks.
“When it comes to pre-camp, if I get called up, I'll try to impress during practice,” he said. “I'm not looking at the other strikers. I'm looking at me.”
The former New York resident has done what’s necessary to put himself on Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar, but Boyd knows a challenge awaits him in order to slide into the roster. Essentially, he must remain spectacular in Europe.
“I know it's going to be tough, and they have some big strikers, but right now, I'm focused on Rapid Vienna,” he said. “That's the only thing I can do, focus on the cup, and try to score more goals.”
“I won't give up, and I'll do anything I can because it's a big dream of mine.”