Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chris Wondolowski provides San Jose Earthquakes more than goals - San Jose Mercury News

SANTA CLARA -- The record-breaking statistics have piled up this season for Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski.

But the most telling number is seven as he and his high-flying team face the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Wondolowski, 29, earned his seventh assist last weekend as the Quakes won their third consecutive Major League Soccer game to remain atop of the Supporters' Shield race. The tally matched Wondolowski's career assist total before this year.

Or put it this way: the striker had seven assists over seven seasons until breaking out in 2012.

Although he also has a league-leading 19 goals this year, the assists embody the "me-second" spirit of MLS's accidental star. Wondolowski's share-the-riches attitude has done as much as anything to propel the league's most potent offense.

"Everyone is serving balls for everyone," outside back Justin Morrow said. "We're never worried if we're going to score a goal."

San Jose (17-6-5) has scored 58 goals in 28 games. Wondolowski's penalty kick goal Saturday broke his club single-season record for scoring. The De La Salle graduate is five goals from matching Ronald Cerritos' team career record of 61 goals in 148 games.

Wondolowski, the two-time league leader in goals, also is trying to become the first MLS player to get 20 goals in a season since Landon Donovan did it in 2008. He also has been prolific in netting game winners with his MLS-record

tying ninth of the season Saturday. Wondolowski had nine game winners in 2010 to tie former Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz's total from a decade ago.

But it is the mounting assists that have turned the Danville native into the front-runner for league MVP.

"I take huge pride in that," he said of the assists. "All the guys that are scoring those goals deserve them. I feel like they are getting rewarded now. I love it and I want some more of it."

No doubt Wondolowski has benefited from a talented supporting cast starting with Alan Gordon (12 goals), Steven Lenhart (eight) and Simon Dawkins (seven). Midfielder Marvin Chavez (nine assists) also has boosted the offense with dazzling moves that has opened the middle.

But Wondolowski, who played with the U.S. national team this summer, has grown more confident with the ball on his feet. It seems he has added a dimension to his game in the penalty area.

"Wondo's the best forward around the box," said new midfielder Medhi Ballouchy, who is expected to get his second start Wednesday because Shea Salinas and Chavez are out with injuries.

"His game is very simple. He doesn't try to do too much. He's not going to try to get his goals; he's not that type of person."

Despite the selfless approach Wondolowski leads the Golden Boot race by five goals with six games left in the regular season. Although well aware of his standing, the striker's only interest is victories.

Whenever the Quakes falter Wondolowski takes the blame. If the club wins he praises defenders or the teammates who passed him the ball for "easy" goals.

"He's the same guy but he's found success reading spots and hooking guys up," Lenhart said. "He puts himself in good spots whether he is setting guys up or scoring goals."

1 comment:

  1. Chris Wondolowski, you beauty. earthquakes are lucky to have him in the side and the reason why they are on top is Chris