Terrence Boyd interview: Stars and Stripes with a little East Coast swing for U.S. striker

Photo: GEPA Pictures / Kerstin Kummer
Photo: GEPA Pictures / Kerstin Kummer

Although born in Bremen, RB Leipzig striker Terrence Boyd is as proud a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team as anyone, and just like his American flag tattoo, music is a permanent link to a big part of his heritage.

Since his breakthrough into the senior U.S. squad while playing for Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team, the 23-year-old has impressed many. At club level, he spent two years with Austria’s Rapid Vienna, attracting interest from numerous reputable European sides before deciding on a move back to Germany with second-tier RB Leipzig this summer.

American soccer fans have certainly taken to him, impressed by his forward play, physicality, and the patriotism he displays. Terrence’s mother is German and although it was there he would grow up, his father comes from the U.S. and while he was very young, Terrence spent a year living in Queens, New York.

The 13-cap international has tattoos including the Stars and Stripes, a bald eagle, and one of music’s most iconic artists – Jimi Hendrix. He thinks back to another of his musical reminders of America when discussing some of his favourite artists and genres.

“When I was young and living in the States for a year, my mom had two Boyz II Men albums that she still has. I think they’re the best boyband ever, I’m being serious.

“The first CD I bought was Jay-Z ‘Hard Knock Life’ – a banger! I listen to mostly hip-hop: YG, A$AP Rocky, Drake, and PARTYNEXTDOOR, who just dropped a nice album.

“I also enjoy electro sometimes because I think you need something else to listen to besides hip-hop. The really hard techno music is too much for me.

“To live in Austria for two years, obviously I’ve heard some crazy music! Some of the country music from Germany and from America is not for me.”

A former Hertha Berlin prospect, Terrence was able to play for the U.S. Under-20s after obtaining an American passport. Also representing the Under-23s, he won his first senior cap in February 2012, making his way into the action as a replacement for Jozy Altidore in the 1-0 victory over Italy in Genoa in which Clint Dempsey scored the winner.

Numerous U.S. internationals (male and female) have been on this site and one of the first was midfielder Kyle Beckerman back in 2011. The Real Salt Lake captain told how National Team kitman Jesse Bignami was the locker room DJ at the time and other players on the team have also shared their insight into the music when the squad gets together.

The most recent of these was midfielder Maurice Edu and the Philadelphia Union midfielder is a name Terrence brings up as he tells how he has managed to secure a pretty important additional role for most game days.

“Seriously, with the National Team, I’m the DJ for probably 50 per cent of the matches. It was hard to earn that spot!

“Maurice Edu, we’re on the same page when it comes to music and he plays it sometimes. He has a good sense of what to play and we’re all like ‘come on, Mo!’

“Before a game, it has to be music with nice beats to get you pumped-up. One I play is Drake ‘Worst Behavior’.”

Joining Rapid Vienna ahead of the 2012/13 season, Terrence netted twice on his debut against Wacker Innsbruck and played in the Europa League for the 32-time Austrian champions. Although there was to be no silverware in his two years with the club, it was a happy time in his career and he contributed 37 goals and 13 assists in his 80 games.

Rapid finished 2nd to Red Bull Salzburg last season in the Austrian Football Bundesliga and after his scoring form Terrence had plenty of admirers ahead of his move to Leipzig. Despite featuring for a number of teams and age groups at club and international level he has so far been able to dodge the popular initiation procedure of singing in front of his teammates, as he explains.

“Somehow, I’ve never had to, but to be honest, it wouldn’t be a punishment for me. I can’t sing but I’m not really ashamed to!

“I remember two years ago with the National Team when we played Russia, Josh Gatt, who plays for Molde in Norway, was making his first appearance and he had to sing after the game. He was going crazy and it was funny because you didn’t expect it.”


Photo: GEPA Pictures / Christian Walgram
Photo: GEPA Pictures / Christian Walgram


The 5-1 win over Scotland for the U.S. in Jacksonville in May 2012 was all the more memorable for Terrence as he made his very first start for his country. His backheel assist for Michael Orozco Fiscal to score the winner and seal a historic first win over Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in a friendly three months later also ranks as a particularly notable moment.

Although named in Jürgen Klinsmann’s provisional 30-man squad for this summer’s World Cup, Terrence was one of the seven who unfortunately missed out on the final 23, along with the likes of Landon Donovan. Despite the natural disappointment, he was a fervent supporter of the team during the tournament and was celebrating as Hertha Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks headed home the decisive goal in the 2-1 group win over Ghana.

The towering 21-year-old centre-back is someone Terrence knows well from their younger days at Hertha and he is one of the two players he would pick if he was to ever record a cover version of a song.

“I would definitely choose Maurice Edu, and also John Brooks because these two would be funny. We would do something by Drake or Lil Wayne, maybe ‘Trophies’ (Drake).”

At the beginning of his stay with Rapid, Terrence scored a terrific bicycle kick in a friendly with Roma. He was also amongst the goals during this pre-season, hitting the target twice, including in the 4-2 win over French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

He joins an RB Leipzig team that has enjoyed three promotions in the five years since they were rebranded from fifth-tier SSV Markranstädt and relocated from the nearby town into the city. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has openly targeted promotion to the top flight and then Champions League qualification with the club and Alexander Zorniger is the manager tasked with delivering success this season in the 2. Bundesliga.

Terrence has frustratingly had to sit out the start of this season after suffering a partially-torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his knee. The initial prognosis was a ten-week period of recovery and among the games he will miss is the National Team’s first match since the World Cup – a friendly with Czech Republic on September 3rd in Prague.

‘Die Roten Bullen’ have begun the league campaign promisingly, following up a draw with VfR Aalen with a 3-0 win away at TSV 1860 München. They have also progressed to the second round of the national cup, the DFB-Pokal, eliminating top-flight SC Paderborn on Sunday with a 2-1 win after extra-time in front of 24,348 supporters at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena.

Although the injury was not on Terrence’s list of objectives, he has been very impressed by what he has seen since he signed with RBL.

“The whole organisation is very professional and it’s a big step for me. I’ve been doing rehab for my injury but the intensity of the training sessions for the team has been very high.

“We’ve started the season well with four points from two games and it’s a big stadium (Red Bull Arena); we could average around 30,000 this season. The whole scenery is magnificent, the coaches are good, and you can focus on delivering what you need and the areas you need to improve on.”

The World Cup was not to be this time for Terrence but U.S. Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann is an obvious admirer of his talents, plucking him from the fourth level of German football at the time of his first call-up from Borussia Dortmund II. Klinsmann’s assistant Andreas Herzog, the ex-Austria star, was a player Terrence would go to watch as a kid when Herzog represented Werder Bremen and he appears highly thought of by such coaches in the U.S. National Team set-up overall.

Stateside and much further afield, the U.S. drew admirers for the way they pushed Belgium all the way in their last-16 loss by two goals to one in the World Cup. Terrence is set on using the experience of missing out as extra motivation to be involved in the future.

“Yeah, it was hard for me. You’re thinking ‘I could have been there’ but I accepted it and told myself: “Hey, it’s a sign you’ve got to work harder so in future they can’t ignore you.”

“I’m determined to keep showing my skills so hopefully Jürgen Klinsmann then has to call me up! I’m quite positive and during the World Cup I was just like an average fan, watching the games and shouting along.”

The high points of Terrence’s career, such as his consistent form in front of goal and elevation to the full National Team, have been mixed with natural bumps in the road. Missing out on qualifying for the 2012 Olympics with the Under-23s was something he and his teammates really felt.

Terrence seems wise to certain facets of his profession already at 23 but is committed to channelling every experience into success for the future.

“First of all, I know soccer is a business and you can’t really trust anyone. Second, it’s up and down every day, especially for a striker.

“Sometimes you score, sometimes you don’t score, but you have to keep motivated and to have a positive mindset. If your chance doesn’t come, work again for the next chance.

“Work hard for the team but also play for fun because at the end of the day we’re doing our hobby as a job. Keep yourself humble and be realistic whether things are going well or not.”


Photo: GEPA Pictures / Harald Steiner
Photo: GEPA Pictures / Harald Steiner


After leaving Hertha Berlin in 2011, the move to Borussia Dortmund brought the opportunity for Terrence to work with former U.S. international forward David Wagner. German-born also, Wagner played for the National Team during Steve Sampson’s time in charge and he remains the manager of Dortmund’s reserves, now in the third tier of the German game, the 3. Liga.

Terrence credits him alongside a very important influence in his life for what he was able to give to him as a young player.

“My stepdad is like my personal coach so he always tells me where I can improve. Also, David Wagner, my coach at Borussia Dortmund, really taught me what my strengths were and I really appreciate what he did for me.”

As both a player and supporter, Terrence has a genuine affinity for the game and hopes to be part of a generation that can turn many American kids towards soccer as opposed to the traditional biggest sports in the country. He does however lend his support to two teams from the place he lived in for a year of his youth and he explains two of his other favourite pastimes.

“I’m more of an American football fan (than basketball); I cheer for the New York Giants. I also cheer for the New York Knicks (NBA).

“I’ve just started playing golf and I like it because you don’t really think about your environment when you’re playing. I also like to paint, even though I can’t very well!

“The good thing about artists is there’s no right or wrong, so I just mix some paintings together in my apartment.”

To finish, Terrence is the latest player on the site to take part in some fantasy 5-a-side selection. His U.S. teammate and friend Maurice Edu answered this question on here recently and this one works by the player selecting four of the best they have played alongside in their career.

Terrence is young of course but he has undoubtedly worked with some reputable colleagues, meaning it would be easy for him to name many more. If he was to play in a 5-a-side game right now however, these are the four he would go with on his team and it starts with the National Team and Everton’s chief protector.

“Tim Howard in goal. I think he’s one of the top five in the world and you’ve seen with all the saves he made at the World Cup.

“When I train with him it’s so hard to score. He’s a complete goalkeeper and also a nice person.

“A defender – John Brooks. He’s tall and he’s great at heading, as you saw with the goal against Ghana in the World Cup, and he’s a good friend of mine.

“I can give you my striker before my midfielder – Yussuf Poulsen. He’s a young Danish striker who plays here at Leipzig and we partner very well.

“He’s very fast, he’s great at dribbling and I think he’s the complete package. I think we’ll get along well.

“A midfielder… just give me Clint Dempsey! I’ve never seen a cooler captain; he’s mad cool.

“His technical ability, his touches and his dribbling are insane. He’s always good for a goal, he’s got that flair and he’s so dangerous.

“Every team should have a Clint Dempsey.”

Follow me on Twitter: @chris_brookes

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