It’s clearly Chris Wondolowski Week here in San Jose, and why not? The man simply known as “Wondo” is redefining what it means to be a successful striker in MLS. His Earthquakes are a result away from clinching the top spot in the Western Conference and a solid season-ending run from securing the second Supporters’ Shield award in club history.
Of course, it is not all due to Wondolowski that the team is doing so well this season, despite his record 22 goals for the Earthquakes. With 62 goals in the first 30 games of the season, the Earthquakes have reached a historical high watermark for scoring, and Wondo has only chipped in 35 percent of the total. In 2010 the figure was 53 percent and in 2011 it was 40 percent — clearly Wondolowski has slipped a bit, right?
A justifiable chorus of, “Are you kidding me?” should meet a question like that. To be sure, the 2012 Earthquakes are not a one-man operation on offense — just look at the 12 goals scored by Alan Gordon and the eight goals apiece scored by Steven Lenhart and Simon Dawkins — defined only by the exploits of Wondolowski. This is as complete a team as has been seen in San Jose since the club’s championship run of the early 2000s.
But it can’t be denied that the heart and soul of the club, the face of the franchise, the indisputable team MVP, is Wondo. Perhaps his percentage of the team’s total goals has dropped, but he more than makes up for that with a career-high seven assists this season. To put that in perspective, Wondolowski had just seven helpers combined in his seven previous MLS seasons.
Goal scorer and assist provider? Wondo has bolstered his credentials as a complete offensive player in 2012.
With the regular season drawing down and the MLS Cup playoffs set to start in earnest in November, what better time to extol the virtues that have made Wondo’s 2012 season one of the best offensive seasons in MLS history.
- 22 goals scored is the best total in MLS since 2002 (Carlos Ruiz, 24; Taylor Twellman, 23) and places Wondolowski in seventh on the all-time single-season scoring list. 22 goals also surpass Wondo’s previous club record of 18 goals.
- 56 goals scored over the past three seasons, which ties Wondolowski with Raul Diaz Arce (1996-98) for the most in a three year period in MLS history. Only four players in the league’s 18 years have amassed 50 or more goals over three years — the other two were Roy Lassiter with 55 in 1996-98 and Ruiz with 50 in 2002-04.
- A stunning 0.62 goals per 90 minutes average over his entire career that puts him third all-time in MLS for players with over 20 goals scored. That gaudy number jumps to 0.68 G/90min if measured from the beginning of 2010 when Wondolowski became a regular started for the Earthquakes.
- An eye-popping eight-goal lead in the race for the 2012 Golden Boot award, the highest margin of victory since 2000 when Mamadou Diallo netted 26 to beat out Ante Razov’s 18. In the past 10 MLS seasons, the biggest difference between winner and second place was two goals.
- 51 points, if using the pre-2005 method for determining the MLS scoring champion that awarded two points for a goal and one point for an assist, which would be the best since Twellman posted 52 points in 2002. Perhaps a more accurate measure of a player’s offensive worth, Wondolowski’s point total this season would rank as the fifth-best all-time.
Reading through that list is exhausting and certainly begs the question: Is there nothing Wondo can’t do? He must surely be the frontrunner for the 2012 MLS Most Valuable Player award, perhaps even the only candidate that should be considered.
While that vote will be up to the media and the league, Earthquakes fans can certainly get in on the campaigning for Wondolowski. Whether it is from the grandstands of Buck Shaw Stadium or the message boards and social media sites on the Internet, Wondo well-wishers should spread the word of all his accomplishments. This is election season, after all, and decision day is rapidly approaching.
For the throngs of supporters on Twitter, a favorite hashtag throughout the 2011 season was #WondoTales, a celebratory descriptor of the amazing feats that only Wondolowski could accomplish. In light of his amazing 2012 season, perhaps the time has come for an updated hashtag with the simplest of declarations: #Wondo4MVP.