Playing on painkillers, Bobby Wood struggles to end slump

By Mike Woitalla

His scoreless streak now at 721 minutes, U.S. striker Bobby Wood continues to have the support of his Hamburg SV coach Markus Gisdol as HSV fights against relegation from the Bundesliga.

Before Hamburg SV’s 1-1 tie with Schalke 04 last Saturday, Gisdol was asked by a reporter whether he believed Wood, who’d been getting rock-bottom ratings in his last four games, would get out of his rut.

HSV coach Markus Gisdol

“I’m glad you asked me about Bobby Wood, because this gives me an opportunity to get something off my chest,” said Gisdol, before making an emotional defense of the 24-year-old who scored his last of five Bundesliga goals on March 12. “We have a player who exploded to a new level of performance this season. But who last season still played in the second division [with Union Berlin].

“And now he’s rated among the absolute top players and is expected to always deliver top performances. Bobby is a young guy who has a clear head but at this moment doesn’t have the consistency to bring these top performances over many weeks and months.

“Bobby is someone who fights through week after week. He’s trained for weeks on painkillers. He plays on painkillers.”

HSV has not specified what injury Wood is suffering from, but the German media has reported it concerns his knee. (“Bobby Wood: Knee kaput! Gisdol boils over” was the headline in the tabloid Sport Bild.)

“And then to criticize a playing who has been fighting so hard, that I can’t do,” Gisdol said. “Because I know what an important role he plays for our team. How exemplary his work ethic is. He may not have scored but he toiled for the team and in an extremely difficult game [a 0-0 tie with Mainz]. He made a great effort and will continue to do so in the next games. And when it matters, he’ll score the goals again.

“He made an amazing leap this season but one that isn’t stable yet. You can’t expect him to come out of the second division and alone rescue the team’s offense.”

With only 31 goals in 33 games, HSV is the Bundesliga's second-lowest scoring team, worse only than last-place Darmstadt, which has scored 26.

Against Schalke, Wood took four shots. He missed a chance to open the scoring for HSV in the 39th minute and in the 87th minute, Wood had the gamewinner on his foot with only keeper Ralf Fährmann to beat from close range, but shot wide.

“It was still a good effort from Bobby,” Gisdol said after the Schalke tie. “Strikers shouldn’t just be judged on goals, but also on the chances they get. That’s the first step to start scoring again. Sooner or later Bobby will hit the target for us. Of that I’m 100 percent sure.”

His next chance comes Saturday, when HSV hosts Wolfsburg, which sits two points above HSV. A win over the Wolves will save HSV, the club that prides itself as the only founding Bundesliga member never to have dropped to the second tier.

A tie or a loss will send HSV into a two-leg relegation-promotion playoff against the second division’s third-place finisher.

14 comments about "Playing on painkillers, Bobby Wood struggles to end slump ".
  1. Bob Ashpole, May 18, 2017 at 7:50 a.m.

    Is anyone else alarmed about Woods taking pain medication to play through a knee injury?

  2. Daniel Clifton replied, May 18, 2017 at 8:17 a.m.

    Yes, Bob, I am alarmed. I believe that is abuse of a player. If he has to take pain killers to practice or play then he shouldn't be practicing or playing.

  3. Brian Kraft replied, May 18, 2017 at 10:11 a.m.

    The line between right and wrong is rarely bright or bold. What we've read here is concerning for USMNT fans, but we just do not have all the facts.

  4. Bob Ashpole, May 18, 2017 at 11:32 a.m.

    Brian, I would generally agree with you about some injuries, but not if the injury is a knee injury as reported by the German media. Playing through an ankle injury can also have lifelong consequences. Playing through a groin injury will also aggravate the injury. Generally speaking using pain medication to play is a very bad sign. Then there is the adverse effects of the medication to consider. For instance ibuprofen inhibits blood flow to muscles.

  5. Quarterback TD, May 18, 2017 at 12:03 p.m.

    I am sure painkiller is a norm in all professional sports. The problems are if one becomes addicted to it and it leads to long term drug use and possible death. Secondly and my big concern is the pain killer is not a cure for the knee problem. It would be better if we knew the extent of the knee injury and what is being done.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, May 18, 2017 at 12:49 p.m.

    Q TD, do you understand that "norm" can mean either "common" or "a standard of proper behavior?" I agree that it is common in professional football, but less so in college football and other sports.

  7. Quarterback TD replied, May 18, 2017 at 1:09 p.m.

    Understood and I stand by my comments. The problem is everyone wants to be treated for the pain and not the cure. In Wood case the club does not have the luxury like a player like Gareth Bale to rest and fully recover naturally for 6 months. In other words Wood is expendable and he knows that. That is why he is willing to take painkillers at the possible expense of further injury.

  8. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 18, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.

    So he's expendable and irreplaceable? Huh?

  9. Quarterback TD replied, May 18, 2017 at 6:15 p.m.

    Fire, no wonder Kumar have you and Don looking like you belong in a circus.. where did the word irreplaceable come from ? Anyway at certain points every player becomes expendable regardless of how good they are..any club about to go through relegation will do anything to avoid it and that means forcing indirectly their best players to suit up. This is any sports.. this team is not Barcelona where it can afford to play without Messi and win.

  10. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 19, 2017 at noon

    Right - this team doesn't have a replacement for Wood at the moment so he is playing through pain to win.

  11. Nick Daverese, May 18, 2017 at 3:38 p.m.

    When you move up in class there is always a period of adjustment a player has to go through. Have to get used to the increased speed of play. But I don't like taking pain killers either for the pain either in order to be physically able to play at some level. Pain is a good thing it tells the body it is time to rest and rehabilitate. The chances are very good something will happen to blow the knee completely if he continues to play on it. He should come home for treatment and rest. I think he needs people around him to enforce that. Like our national team coach.

  12. beautiful game, May 18, 2017 at 5:52 p.m.

    Wood is playing with fire and management is not looking in the interests of the player and the club. Time is long past for a thorough evaluation and plan of action, whether it's rehab time/no playing time. Anyone who compares this "pain killer issue" with football is a dunce. The football macho man syndrome endorsed by management is about winning at all cost and players are dispensable; not so for soccer stars.

  13. Karl Schreiber, May 18, 2017 at 6:18 p.m.

    Bruce Arena, our USMNT head coach recently visited the club in Hamburg, as reported here and in the German press. Wouldn’t you expect that he discussed the situation thoroughly in his conversations with Bobby and Hamburg management, as well as – presumably – the medical staff at the club as well as at USSF?

  14. Craig Cummings, May 18, 2017 at 11:57 p.m.

    Nick you are right,when your body tells you that you are in pain, great pain, time to stop. Get time off.

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