New England Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena and newly signed striker Bobby Wood know each other quite well. That familiarity might be why Wood told media in his introductory press conference on Wednesday that he hopes to give the manager headaches come 2023.
“Nothing crazy,” Wood said about conversations he has had with Arena regarding his role on New England’s roster. “He just told me he wants me to come in, work hard, get fit, help the team, and that’s what I’m here to do. There will be a fair chance that if I do my thing, I’ll give him a headache of picking the [starting] lineup. That’s the goal of any player. Like I said, I just want to come in and help the team. I think I’ll be a great pickup for them. I’ll just come in and work hard, really. It’s very simple. I’m just excited to meet the guys and do my thing.”
There will be some competition for minutes at the striker position. Giacomo Vrioni will surely be in line for a majority of starts and minutes in 2023. Jozy Altidore, Gustavo Bou, and Justin Rennicks are also on the roster.
Wood was selected by the Revolution in Stage 2 of the 2022 MLS Re-Entry Draft. The 30-year-old is coming off surgery from an abductor injury that ended his 2022 season in June. He tallied three goals and an assist before his season came to an end.
Real Salt Lake’s senior director of athlete health and performance, Theron Enns had an initial prognosis of 8-10 weeks for Wood’s return. Now nine weeks out from surgery, Wood stated that his rehab is going well.
“Yeah, it’s going good,” the striker said. “I’m training every day, thankful for [Real Salt Lake] for still letting me train there and work with the coaches and everything and it’s going good, it’s going good. I’m I think at nine weeks and comparing it to the first surgery, I’m worlds ahead. I’m already sprinting at full speed, passing, everything, so it feels good. I’m happy with the progress so far. And I should be ready by preseason or a week or two later, but it’s very positive.”
Wood joins a long list of players who have reunited with Arena after being coached by the legendary soccer mind on the club or international level. The 30-year-old touched upon why players enjoy playing for Arena.
“I think [Arena] is a player’s coach,” Wood said. “From my experience he’s always been very honest. I’m not saying everything was perfect, but he’s always been very straightforward with me. As a coach, that’s one of my most important things. I just want him to be straightforward and he’s always been that with me. Because of that, I have huge respect [for Arena]. It’s exciting to work with someone who’s just a player’s coach. I think it’s going to be easy to work with him.”
While Wood obviously wants to win the 11-year professional is hoping to have fun in New England. He touched upon the mental obstacles he has had to deal with the last few years.
“Honestly, with everything that happened in Germany, a lot of it was out of my hands,” the striker said. “With the contract situation, it had nothing to do with actual soccer. So that was mentally tough, but I grew from it. At the en of the day, it made me stronger. I don’t regret anything that happened in the past. I’ve always been very positive about that whole situation just because I grew from it. That was most important to me, that I grew as a person. At the end of the day, [Real Salt Lake], I had a great time there. I’m very thankful for my teammates and my coaches there because they really showed me a good time. This was kind of a blessing in disguise. I get to experience something new again, be with a great group of guys, I hope, and compete for something from the potential the Revs showed just two years ago. I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a very good time.
“That’s my main goal. I just want to have fun,” Wool also stated during the press conference. “I want to play and help the team out as much as possible, get back to just having fun and playing. That’s all I want.”