Americans Overseas: Fabian Johnson and Bobby Wood
"Maybe the other signing will come from this beautiful country; The United States of America"
This is what FC Cincinnati GM, Gerard Nijkamp, said on ExtraTime Radio on January 16th when asked about potential signings in this transfer window. Nijkamp also stated that they are looking for another No. 9 to pair with Vazquez and Dally, along with a winger to challenge Gyau and Manneh for the spots they occupied by the end of the 2019 disaster season.
The first name that should come to mind is Fabian Johnson. Johnson was a previous target of FC Cincinnati's that dates back to their last season in the USL, which ultimately fell through in large part to the MLS rules regarding player-acquisition mechanisms.
Now 32, Johnson is just coming off of his first start for Bundesliga side Borrusia Monchengladbach since August. Although playing as a right back in Germany, The United States National Team has long viewed him as a versatile winger/midfielder, and so does Ron Jans. The depth FCC has at the outside backs is arguably the best in the league, so an acquisition of Johnson would see him slide into the starting role at one of the wings, most likely on the right side. In this scenario, Kubo would shift over to the left side, one of our young strikers up top, and our mysterious No.10 slotting in just behind. However, Johnson's age does carry some sense of concern for the future and how long he can be effective for. A younger signing is ideal, but a proven U.S. international is valuable all in itself.
The sexier of the American rumors is Hamburg SV striker, Bobby Wood. Wood, 27, is currently in the prime of his career, one that has declined since his breakout year with Union Berlin in 2016. Wood has struggled since then, scoring only 10 goals and tallying another seven assists in his three and a half seasons of league play while bouncing back and forth between the first and second tiers on Germany. As out of favor as he's ever been in his career, Wood is still the player FCC is looking for to spearhead our new look attack come the 2020 season.
Why though? Why should we be intrigued and excited about acquiring a U.S. international who is brutally out of form and has only played 9% of his teams minutes in the German second tier this season?
That's exactly why we should be excited. Wood hasn't contributed for club or country recently but neither has anybody else on our roster. Vazquez is fairly untapped talent that is a wild card heading into the season. Mattocks (hopefully) won't be on the roster by the time the season begins and if he is, he doesn't fit Jans' system and speaking of Jans, he's just not a fan of Mattocks. Dally, he's Rashawn Dally, someone who will probably struggle to make the bench for games this year barring injuries. Wood is easily the best option out of the bunch.
Coming to Cincinnati is a win-win situation for everybody involved. We acquire a striker who's hungry, physical, and in his prime. One who is ready to rejuvenate his career and break back into the national team. Wood gets his career back on track, Cincinnati starts scoring goals, and we win games. Classic win-win.
I understand the grievances Americans have with Bobby Wood, I really do. He was a part of the men's team that couldn't beat Trinidad and Tobago, he's not a quality finisher in front of goal, he lacks composure, he's not consistent; I've heard it all with him. At the end of the day, Wood is also ready to play. He hasn't been able to get minutes in Germany or with the national team in 2019, but he would be an every game starter here in Cincinnati. All signs are pointing in the right direction that he could be a 15+ goal scorer in a new league, a new system, and with consistent minutes.
I don't see Fabian Johnson on Nijkamp's grocery list, but Bobby Wood is. I believe he will be in Cincinnati for 2020, wearing our half-and-half monstrosity that we're forced to call a home kit. It will be interesting to see how his contract will work out and whether or not he will occupy one of our two remaining DP slots. His current contract has him at over $3 million per season with Hamburg, so it's feasible to assume his contract with Cincinnati will surely be above the maximum TAM contract of $1.5 million per season. I see his contract landing anywhere between a range of $1.3 - $2 million per season, with the former juiced with incentives.
This is a great thing for the orange and blue. Bringing in an out of form American striker who is desperate to jump start a career that was so promising in the early portion of his career. Wood can be, and will be, instrumental in whether or not FC Cincinnati finds themselves in the top-seven this year in the east and playing in a first MLS playoff game.