SAN JOSE, Calif. - In soccer, the name on the front of the jersey matters more than the one on the back.
But prior to the United States’ 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup match in Portland, it was the back of forward Chris Wondolowski’s jersey that seemed to grab all of the attention.
Named as a starter in the country’s opening match against Belize, Wondolowski walked out of the tunnel bearing three W’s in his last name instead of two.
Was there subliminal messaging in the addition of the extra W?
As it turns out, each W represented a goal the Danville native would score in the first half of the match.
Goal-less for the U.S. prior to this match, “Wondowlowski” came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, exploding for a first-half hat trick to help ignite the U.S. to a commanding 6-1 win.
His first-half outburst began after finishing off of a deflection from the Belize goalkeeper in the 12th minute. After Joe Corona’s header was denied on the line by the goalkeeper, the ball fell right to Wondolowski, who put himself in excellent position to clean it up.
“Jose Torres made a great run on the flank, found Corona who had his header deflected and I was there to put the ball away,” Wondolowski told U.S. Soccer. “I tried to rely on my anticipation on that play and the ball fell to me in the six-yard box.”
Wondolowski’s second goal came from another flank service, this time from the right side, courtesy of midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the 37th minute.
“We won the ball in the midfield. I saw the ball being played out to Kyle [Beckerman] and he played a great ball into the box,” Wondolowski said. “I timed my run anticipating his service and I was fortunate to get on the end of it.”
It only took four minutes for Wondo to complete his first-half hat-trick after connecting on a whipping ball from Michael Parkurst.
It was another goal and another diving header for the Quakes striker.
“Parky [Michael Parkhurst] played in a great ball toward me and it was just one on one with me and the defender,” Wondolowski said. “I was able to get across him, hold him off with my run and was fortunate enough to get something on it for the goal.”
Wondolowski’s penchant for scoring goes far beyond his club career, in which he has 102 career MLS goals, but for his country as well. Wondo currently has 10 career goals as a member of the U.S. National Team, including his goal in the team’s final Gold Cup warm-up against Guatemala on July 3.