For one long weekend the greatest soccer secret to those outside of San Jose kept the greatest soccer secret from those in San Jose. Earthquakes star forward Chris Wondolowski received the news he had been selected to represent the United States in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup from national team coach Bob Bradley just last Thursday; however, the public wouldn’t know until midday on Monday. Wondo’s inclusion on Team USA made heads turn in surprise across the country, while local supporters let out a cheer for the man they knew deserved the opportunity.
With an invitation to the FIFA Confederations Cup at stake for the winners of this year’s edition of the biennial Gold Cup tournament, coach Bradley made it known he wanted his forward selections to be in good scoring form. With previous USA striker selections Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle, Teal Bunbury and Conor Casey not getting the job done for their club teams, the unassuming Wondolowski continued his scoring tear which began last spring for the Earthquakes.
Following a call-up to the national team camp in January of this year, Wondo took the advice of the coaches and raised his game even further in the early going of the 2011 season. Why did Chris Wondolowski get that call last Thursday from Bob Bradley? Just a look at his recent accomplishments makes the choice look clear:
- In the exactly one year prior to getting the call-up, Wondo had scored 20 goals in MLS regular and postseason matches (plus five more in the preseason).
- With five goals already this season, the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner trails only the injured Charlie Davies in production from the forward spot.
- Of those five goals, all scored during the run of play, Wondo has shown his versatility by finishing twice with his head and three times with his left foot.
- In only 54 appearances with the Earthquakes, he ranks fourth in team history in goals scored, with 26, and is second in game-winning goals, with 12.
- Wondo holds the Earthquakes all-time goals-per-game record by a large margin with an average of 0.48.
- His 18 goals in 2010 set a team record and included hat tricks against Toronto FC and Chivas USA.
For a national team that has been lacking at production from the forward position, Bradley could not have chosen a better option for Team USA than Wondolowski. And even though he has just one cap in his career — earned earlier this year in a friendly against Chile — Wondo has shown he is not afraid of the spotlight and is capable of scoring against quality opposition. While Earthquakes supporters will miss his production for the blue-and-black over the next couple weeks of the MLS season, they will watch with pride as he unleashes his clinical finishing touch on the opponents of the red-white-and-blue.