photo courtesy of GEPA-pictures.com/Wien Energie
By FRANCO PANIZO
After the busiest summer of his brief professional career, Terrence Boyd joined Austrian club Rapid Vienna from German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund in July with the idea that he would find the necessary playing time to further his development.
About a month into the season, Boyd has already accomplished more than he would have thought possible. He has locked down a starting spot, found ways to make an impact and looks as comfortable as can be in his new surroundings. The reason for the early success is because Boyd's transition from life in his native Gemany to Austria has been easy.
Well, except for one thing.
Having played for his respective clubs' second teams before signing with Vienna this summer, the 21-year-old Boyd was not familiar with partaking in a full preseason camp. He was not as fit as the rest of the team when he arrived, and it showed from the onset.
"Only on the normal fitness, I was running so slow. Women that were jogging were running faster than me," Boyd told SBI. "I was like 'Yo, something isn't right.' It was my heart rate and the way I have to work, but now I have the basic endurance and this is good because in my previous clubs we just worked on quick energy and have the power for five sprints and that's it."
That newfound endurance and Boyd's work rate have made him a quick fan favorite at the club, which is one of the biggest in the Austrian Bundesliga. Boyd has settled in on and off the field and in fact, he did not take long to grab headlines for one of his performances.
Days after netting an eye-opening bicycle kick in a preseason friendly against AS Roma, Boyd was given the start in Vienna's season opener against Wacker Innsbruck. It was his professional club debut and he repaid the coach's faith in him by netting the winner in the fourth minute, assisting on another and capping the scoring in a Man-of-the-Match worthy showing in a 4-0 home victory.
"It was crazy, because everything worked out in this game," said Boyd of his debut. "We played very good. [My] second goal was really lucky, because I didn't really hit it right, and it went in when normally every other match it wouldn't go in. You see you always need a bit of luck, but it was a good game for me and the team. It was good for my self esteem, and I'm just trying to keep it now."
The U.S. men's national team striker has gone on to start and play 90 minutes in all but one of the following matches across all competitions for Vienna, including the playoff rounds of the Europa League. There, Boyd shined recently, putting forth some late-game heroics for the Green-Whites by saving them from elimination in the second leg of their series with Serbian outfit Vojvodina.
Down 2-1 on aggregate, Boyd helped rescue Vienna by drawing a penalty kick that was converted in the 91st minute of the match to put the Austrian club ahead on away goals. Boyd then followed that up by scoring a goal of his own a few minutes later.
"The whole match I didn't have that many chances, but I just worked hard, I just fought for the team and when we got the penalty I was celebrating although we didn't make it yet," said Boyd. "I was like "Oh my God," because it was the 90th minute and we were one behind the whole time.
"Normally soccer isn't fair, this is one of the few times that it is. We were the better team. It was so nice that he made it and of course I'm always happy if we win, but strikers like me are never happy if I don't score. Of course in this moment I was just happy that we made the next round and then I get that extra goal and it just made my day."
As enjoyable as most of the results have been for Boyd and Vienna, they, too, sufferred a big loss at home that was largely criticized by media and fans alike. The Green-Whites dropped the first Vienna derby of the new campaign to Austria Vienna on Aug. 5, getting shut out at home and losing bragging rights in a disappointing match that Boyd vividly remembers and describes as intense due to the atmosphere created by the two teams' supporters.
"It was just bad for us, because it was such a disappointment for the fans because we lose 3-0 in our own stadium, it's so, so bad," said Boyd. "They told us not to show in the streets for the next few days, just stay home, because they won't be satisfied. That's what I did. We didn't play well and we just have to forget it. Hopefully, we win the next matches."
Boyd has more to think about these days than just winning with Rapid Vienna. He is also now a fully-integrated member of the U.S. men's national team, having been apart of the team during it's month-long camp earlier this summer and a member of the 23-man roster attempting to secure the first U.S. win in Mexico, and he wants it to remain that way.
In fact, Boyd is keen on continuing to play for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann despite the fact that he just settled in with Vienna, and he hopes to put himself in a position to be in Brazil two summers from now for the 2014 World Cup.
"Of course, I want to be in every match, I want to be called up to every camp and I hope it works out with the club," said Boyd. "Sometimes it's not the FIFA date, but I hope this works out and Klinsmann calls me up for every match, every camp, score my first goal for the national team. This is the biggest thing ever: if I make the World Cup team. It would be a big dream."
While Boyd has a long-term goal already set, a dream came true for him earlier this summer. The young striker played in his first World Cup qualifier back in June in a campaign-opening victory for the U.S. team over Antigua and Barbuda, a match that cap-tied him to the Unitd States. Boyd was thrilled about that, taking to Twitter after the game to express his delight.
Boyd's hunger to aid the American cause has never been in question despite him also being eligible to play for Germany. He has been openly proud to represent the United States since playing for some of its youth teams, is hoping to one day move stateside and even has pinned up a large U.S. flag on a wall in one of the corridors in his two-story apartment in Vienna, a sign that Boyd feels as American as any player on the U.S. team.
"I'm just so happy and proud to be part of the team because we have such a good team, we have a lot of talent," said Boyd. "I'm just happy to be a part of it and I hope to make a difference on the team in the next matches and next years."
As much as has been going right for Boyd in recent months, the Rapid Vienna striker has been warned not to let it get to his head and to continue to train hard. Boyd has done just that, working on what he calls 'striker-specific' things like runs into the box and finishing. Still, he remains mindful of the advice given to him by Klinsmann and U.S. assistant coach Andreas Herzog, who is Austrian and familiar with the workings in and around Vienna after having played there in his career.
"Andreas Herzog, he told me first congrats," said Boyd. "Then, because of the media here they're like crazy because they hype everything up, they were like, 'OK, I'm the new star, we're going to be champions,' then we lost the derby and we were the disgrace of Austria. He said after my first match against Wacker when I scored two goals, all the people that are supporting you right now and are hyping you are also the people that want to see you being down, so just have to be aware of this and keep working."
That is what Boyd intends to do. It is, after all, what has seen the rising youngster go from U.S. youth team player to a regular on the full U.S. team to a starter at one of the biggest clubs in Austria.
"It's good the way it's running right now, but there's a lot of bigger things in soccer," said Boyd. "You just have to stay humble and work your ass off."