Winning the MLS 2010 Golden Boot award and finishing among the top three vote-getters for the league’s Most Valuable Player award has changed San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski’s offseason plans.
Just not in the way you might expect.
“To be honest, I think I’m going to work harder, because I have now higher expectations of myself and what I can achieve,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve always thought that I’ve worked hard in the offseason, but I have to work even harder now to try to stay at this level. I don’t want to drop by any means.”
The Earthquakes don’t want that, either – and if San Jose are to repeat their success of last season, they can’t afford it.
[inline_node:323426]That being said, Wondolowski is realistic about repeating his league-leading 18-goal haul, which smashed Ronald Cerritos’ single-season Quakes franchise record of 15, set in 1999.
“I feel that if the team is playing well, that we will get opportunities,” Wondolowski said. “And if we get chances and opportunities, I can definitely see myself being on the end of it. I would be shocked if I can get 18 again this year, but I really do feel I can produce at a very good level and a very good number that would be somewhere around there.”
Wondolowski knows that in addition to a new contract – which is expected to be finalized after the holidays – there will be similarly heightened expectations for his game, not just among the Quakes' faithful but throughout the MLS. No longer will he be able to sneak up on teams as he did in 2010.
“Going into each game, even since I was 9 or 10, I’ve always had some enormous expectations of myself,” Wondolowski said. “I’ve always been my toughest critic. So nothing’s really changed. I just know what I need to do, what I can do and what I need to do. I feel that if I meet those expectations, I’ll meet a lot of other people’s expectations as well.”
With Designated Player Geovanni leading a parade of attacking players leaving San Jose this winter – Eduardo, Arturo Alvarez and Cornell Glen are gone – the biggest item on San Jose’s to-do list is to find some more firepower. Wondolowski thinks his best match as a strike partner could come from within.
[inline_node:304577]“I definitely feel like guys like Ryan Johnson and Scott Sealy are both going to have huge years next year,” Wondolowski said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have maybe even three 10-goal guys.
"It’s definitely a high goal, and it’s something that’s not done in this league very often, but I think that the capabilities of those two, they both have showed it in past years, and they can do it with this team.”
Wondolowski said he “kind of saw it coming” when FC Dallas’ David Ferreira beat out him and Los Angeles’ Edson Buddle for the MVP trophy, but he harbors no disappointment over the outcome.
“[Ferreira] was definitely a catalyst of his team; everything went through him,” Wondolowski said. “It was a true honor to being able to score those goals, but not everything went through me. I was kind of the beneficiary, being on the end of stuff. You definitely need that, but I felt that the whole offense wouldn’t sputter if I wasn’t in there.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes