SAN JOSE, Calif. — For the first time in nearly a full year, there’s a second name alongside that of Chris Wondolowski at the top of the San Jose Earthquakes’ goal-scoring leaderboard.
With two goals in his last two matches, Simon Dawkins has matched Wondolowski’s brace from San Jose’s 2-0 win in Dallas on March 26.
The last time Wondolowski had any competition for the Quakes’ scoring crown, it was April 24, 2010, when both he and Ike Opara had a pair of goals. Wondolowski scored in four of San Jose’s next six matches to firmly establish himself as the Quakes’ leading scorer and eventual league Golden Boot winner.
And while coach Frank Yallop wouldn’t mind having Wondolowski repeat his 18-goal haul from last season, there’s something to be said for having a second option that might be just as dangerous.
“A lot of stuff goes through him,” Yallop said. “[It’s] not just his goals, but a lot of the stuff goes through him when we’re playing well. I thought he tired a little bit in the second half [last Saturday against Toronto FC], so he’s not 100 percent game-fit in the way we want to play, but Simon’s very good."
[inline_node:332777]Dawkins gives the Quakes two such specimens, alongside the self-effacing Wondolowski, and the sum of that pairing might be worth more than its parts – as seen in the former’s 38th-minute goal against the Reds.
Dawkins began the play on the left sideline with an incisive cut between three Toronto defenders, then played the ball square along the top of the box to Wondolowski, who one-timed a return dish that set up the 23-year-old loanee from Tottenham Hotspur to jab an eight-yard shot past Stefan Frei to the far post.
If the 1-1 tie had been scored on the merits of each goal’s aesthetics, the Quakes would have won on all cards.
“You try to do it in training, so once you practice good habits like that, you’ll take them into games,” Dawkins said. “Thankfully, it came off.”
Though Dawkins had precious little experience with MLS before coming over from England just before the Quakes’ season opener, he’s needed an equally small adjustment period.
“He was able to fit right in,” Wondolowski said. “Sometimes good players take a little bit of time to adjust and fit in, but we knew that he had quality from the start, so it’s hard to say [we’re] surprised. We’re definitely just very pleased with it.”
Dawkins, who grew up in the Spurs youth system, credits his new professional family for the smooth transition.
“It’s my teammates; they’ve made me feel really welcome here,” Dawkins said. “I feel like I haven’t left anywhere. I feel like I’ve been playing with the team for a while. Hopefully this can continue.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes