Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood Can Form the United States’ Best Forward Partnership
Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood can form the United States’ most creative and deadly strike duo, which means a spot on the bench for Jozy Altidore. Bruce Arena will likely start Altidore against Honduras no matter what, but Wood is the more talented striker, who has been scoring impressive goals in the Bundesliga.
For a while now, many have viewed Wood as just a nice foil or complement to Altidore as the Number 9, but Wood is a more skilled, more active, and more aggressive striker, which makes for a better partner for Dempsey. When Wood first started playing for the United States, he surprised a lot of people by scoring impressive goals in consecutive games, but after a while, it became clear that these goals weren’t just lucky goals in international friendlies.
Dempsey has long been in a class of his own for the United States, and he hasn’t had a smooth and creative center forward to combine with. When Obafemi Martins was playing with Dempsey for the Seattle Sounders, you could see how Dempsey thrived when he had a strike partner who played his same brand of one-to-two-touch street soccer. With Wood as the center forward, Dempsey will once again have a strike partner who plays quicker and smarter than Altidore, who still slows up the pace of play too much without enough movement off the ball or direct attacking play.
The upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama are must-win games for the United States, and the U.S. must go straight for the jugular with Dempsey and Wood in the attack. Dempsey is fully fit to play, and if Wood is also healthy, then these two have a greater capacity to score on Honduras and Panama than a Altidore-Wood partnership.
When Altidore plays, the American attack is slower and less deadly, and Wood is a true Number 9, even though his style of play is facing the goal and looking for balls played to his feet or into space. Nothing says that a center forward has to play with his back to goal and hold up play, and Wood’s style of play is more effective and more impressive.
When Arena makes his starting lineup for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, he would be wise to partner Dempsey with Wood because Dempsey doesn’t need any time to get used to playing with Wood. Dempsey just knows how to play, and anyone that aggressively attacks the goal will be welcomed by Dempsey.
Starting Dempsey with Wood should bring out the most in both players, and it will cause opposing defenders to have a hard time deciding who to focus on, which will leave one attacker in a dangerous scoring position.