There’s a familiar name back atop the MLS goal-scoring leaderboard.
With a precise header Wednesday night, San Jose Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski moved ahead of a three other players to take sole possession of the league lead on five goals. That tally helped the Quakes clinch a 2-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls, bringing San Jose (3-1-2, 11pts) into a tie for third place in the West.
Wondolowski’s near-post run in the 55th minute put him in position to cash in on Shea Salinas’s pinpoint cross from the left wing. The 33-year-old has now scored in five out of six matches, just the second time he’s had that kind of consistent profligacy since his season goal record-tying 2012 campaign.
That the scoring outburst comes on the heels of a dry warmup to the year was no surprise to San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear.
“He didn’t score a goal in preseason and everybody was worried about him, and I just said, ‘No, [I’m not,] because he just has such a short memory and wants to score all the time,’” Kinnear said. “He wants to do well. He makes good runs, and that’s the main thing, is that he doesn’t stop believing he’s going to get a chance. Great play by Shea, good early ball, good movement by the two forwards. And as soon as you see it going to his head, you feel confident that he’s going to get it on target.”
It was the first goal-assist combination for Wondolowski and Salinas in more than a year; the pair were shut out in 2015 after establishing a great rapport across multiple seasons. Wondolowski said he shared a moment with Salinas as the winger picked up a turnover created by Matias Perez Garcia and lined up his pass from the left wing.
“Shea looked up,” Wondolowski said. “I don’t know — I like to believe we always lock eyes and see each other.”
It was a bit of a redemptive moment for Wondolowski, who pulled his shot wide of the far post in the 33rd minute after slipping through on goal with the match still scoreless.
“[I was] frustrated because I need to bury that,” Wondolowski said. “That’s something I need to do. It’s one of those things where I want the ball again. I want another opportunity because I know I can do better.”
Wondolowski got another chance — and his next one might move him up another notch on the MLS all-time scoring list. Wednesday’s score put him level with Ante Razov in fourth place at 114 career goals in regular-season play.
“It’s pretty cool, just to be mentioned with some of those names,” Wondolowski said. “Ante Razov, one of the greatest. I remember watching him. Just a deadly finisher. That’s pretty amazing, a bit surreal right now. It’s one of those things I think is going to sink in later.”