DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, August 10, 2016
RB Leipzig striker Terrence Boyd looks to be well on his way back from two years on the sidelines with knee problems.
Boyd has spent close to two full seasons on the sidelines after first suffering a knee injury in the 2014/15 pre-season. His brief period on the field over an eight-game span in late-2014 yielded promising results, with three goals scored in eight combined league and cup games.
After complications forced him to miss all of Leipzig's most recent season, where they gained promotion to Germany's top flight, Boyd returned to first-team practice in early-July after spending the previous weeks warming up with the organization's junior squads.
His performances in several warm-up games during this time have not only shown that he is ready and able to fight for minutes with the first team in their initial Bundesliga season, but could also make a quick return to the US National Team setup.
Since re-joining the first team less almost exactly one month ago, he has scored a pair of goals in warm-up games, including the winner against 2nd Bundesliga team Würzburg. Furthermore, he has earned significant minutes, without any lingering complications, in nearly all of their recent games against opponents such as FC Liefering, La Liga team Eibar and Serie A squad Torino FC.
Leipzig's roster does have a strong stable of attackers heading into their first Bundesliga campaign, and Boyd will enter the season competing with the likes of Timo Werner, Davie Selke, Yussuf Poulsen for what will initially be appearances from the bench.
Werner and Selke are the most Bundesliga-proven attacking options in the roster, with a combined 128 top-flight German matches between the two of them, and are the most certain to take up the bulk of starts and minutes.
Their coach Ralph Hasenhüttl is still determining his optimal tactical approach with the roster, and has shifted between a front-two, front-three and a lone striker in recent friendlies. This tactical fluidity, should it carry into the season, will likely see all of the players find time in the correct situational role.
The fact that Boyd has immediately put on such a strong showing after close to 20 months away from any kind of competitive action will not go unnoticed by coaches, and is a strong indicator that he will be regular contributor in the coming weeks and months.
His successful recovery has also put US coaches on alert, potentially giving Jürgen Klinsmann and co. yet another option amongst a flock of forwards that is slowly giving glimpses of becoming a strength for the team in the final build-up towards the 2018 World Cup.
Specifically, United States assistant coach Andreas Herzog has taken notice, and spent time to watch Boyd's 60-minute appearance as a starter in the team's recently friendly match against Eibar. When speaking to the German media afterwards, Herzog expressed both a great surprise and high level of complimentary admiration that Boyd has already regained a strong level of play.
While tempering expectations that an immediate comeback to the Stars and Stripes is imminent, Herzog did tease that the path for the Bremen-born American is clear and up to the player himself.
"He still needs some game practice. However if he continues like this, he will be a candidate for the national team very quickly," Herzog stated.
Leipzig kick off their domestic season on Saturday, August 20 with a potentially perilous trip to 2nd Bundesliga club Dynamo Dresden for the first round of the German Cup. They then begin their regular season eight days later with a trip to Hoffenheim.
Boyd will have his first chance to make a triumphant home-field return in front of the Leipzig crowd, to whom he had already endeared himself in his short on-field time in 2014, when the team has their home opener on September 10 against league powerhouse Dortmund.