The San Jose Earthquakes came into the 2016 season knowing they had to do more than rely on just Chris Wondolowski for offense, but as so often has been the case over Wondolowski’s stellar career with the Quakes, he was, of course, the man to find the back of the net in what turned into an Earthquakes season opening 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday at Avaya Stadium.
The goal was the 110th of Wondolowski’s MLS career, which moves him one tally closer to Major League Soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer Landon Donovan, who scored 144 goals in 334 games. That’s means Landon was scoring a goal in roughly 43% of his appearances. There’s no coach on the planet that would turn down a goal-scoring rate like that, and that’s exactly the kind of stat you’d expect to associate with the man widely considered the greatest U.S. men’s soccer player ever.
Wondo’s 110 goals have come in just 230 appearances, scoring in roughly 47% of his appearances. Part of the fun of dissecting Wondo, however, is that despite being drafted in 2005 by SJ, he only had 53 appearances from 05 to 09 with SJ, Houston, and again San Jose. And in those 53 appearances, he only had seven total goals. He was scoring in barely 13% of his appearances. Since 2010, he has scored 103 goals in 177 appearances, which means he’s scored in 58% of his appearances. His mean average of goals per season since that point is 17 goals per season (low of 11 goals in 2013 and high of 27 goals in 2012). Over that same stretch of time he has become the only player in MLS history to notch double-digit goals scores over six consecutive seasons. One more stat for you, with 110 goals in 17,297 career minutes (including Sunday’s 90) Wondo has created 76% of the production (110 goals vs. 144 goals) Donovan had in a career that spanned 28,665 minutes. More bluntly, Wondolowski has only been on the pitch for 60% of the time that Donovan was when you compare their careers at this moment in time.
Another stat for comparison to throw into the mix is that with today’s game-winning goal, Wondolowski has 37 game-winning goals in 230 appearances. Let’s be subjective and take that to mean that roughly 16% of his career appearances have accounted for him being the difference maker. Donovan leads the MLS game-winning goals chart with 41 in 334 appearances, which makes him the difference maker in roughly 12% of his appearances. Again, advantage Wondo, albeit with level of quantification I might be creating on the fly for a greater, or more simple, level of wrapping our heads around the collective brilliance of Wondolowski.
The uninterrupted (by injury or…?), highly potential eventuality is Wondolowski becoming Major League Soccer’s all time leading scorer. To come up with a goals-per-season average that maybe accounts for age moving forward in terms of projections, take away Wondo’s high bar of a season in 2012. His goals per season (since 2010) average becomes 15, which is what I had him pegged for entering this season. That means by the end of the 2016 season he will have 124 goals, and 139 goals by the end of 2017, when he will be 34. At the age of 35, he would be entering the 2018 season with a need for 6 goals to break the record. He would indeed be older than Landon Donovan was when his career came to an end. But maybe I’m getting way ahead of myself. Careers change, and end, in an instant. Wondolowski also has one young child, and another on the way any day now, which might mean he’s more inclined to hang it up an become a family man sooner rather than later. Or not.
San Jose spent its entire offseason scouring MLS and the international markets for offensive talent, and one of those players San Jose brought in, Panamanian winger Alberto Quintero, was the man who had the assist on the game winning goal, but it was once again Chris Wondolowski, and no one else on this day, that scored that goal. San Jose has changed their formula. The result is invariably the same.