San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski didn’t initially understand the message when his former teammate, Toronto FC captain Dwayne De Rosario, celebrated a goal against the Earthquakes on Sept. 25 by pantomiming the writing of a check.
It wasn’t until after the match that Wondolowski learned the move was meant to underline De Rosario’s request for a wage increase.
But if anyone at BMO Field that day should've been pointing out his return on investment, it was the Quakes’ forward, not the Reds’ midfielder. After all, Wondolowski – who trumped De Rosario's goal with his first MLS hat trick to key a 3-2 Quakes victory – has scored 14 times this season, including a league-high eight game-winners.
However, Wondolowski has no need to resort to such confrontational tactics as the one used by De Rosario, whom Wondolowski played with in both San Jose and Houston from 2005 until midway through last season.
In the wake of the Bay Area native’s breakout season, Quakes general manager John Doyle has already put the wheels in motion to give the MLS’ second-leading scorer a pay hike for 2011 – even though he could legally hold Wondolowski to the terms of his deal, which has another three years to run.
[inline_node:320600]“At the end of the season, you evaluate how somebody does, and then you want to reward them for what they’ve done,” Doyle told MLSsoccer.com. “The way the league works, it’s a four-year contract.
“We could have him play for what he’s on, but [head coach Frank Yallop], myself and our club don’t feel that’s right. He’s definitely warranted a raise, that’s for sure.”
Wondolowski said Doyle first broached the subject a couple of weeks ago, as he was in the midst of a prodigious scoring run. In addition to the hat trick against Toronto, Wondolowski’s brace secured a 2-0 victory against D.C. United on Oct. 9, and that result – combined with a Kansas City loss – put the Quakes in the postseason.
“The league – and especially this club – has done a great job of rewarding players,” Wondolowski said. “There’s not been any hard numbers [discussed], but John’s been a great guy and already came and talked to me.
“I feel that we’ll be able to talk in this offseason and work something out.”
As for De Rosario’s unusual route for seeking a bump up to Designated Player status, Wondolowski could empathize – if not quite agree – with the Canadian’s method.
“There’s just always better places to do that,” said Wondolowski. “I just have to shake my head sometimes with that guy. He’s still a good guy, though, and I can know a little bit where he’s coming from.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes.