With Copa America Centenario in full swing, San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski is ready to contribute to the U.S. National Team’s efforts to hoist one of the most prestigious trophies in world soccer. Here are eight reasons why San Jose’s No. 8 is the perfect role model to look up to.
1. Production: Wondolowski’s 116 career goals rank fourth all-time in Major League Soccer. He is the first and only player in league history to tally double-digit scoring totals in six consecutive seasons and has scored an equal number of home goals and road goals over his career.
2. Humility: Although Wondolowski has his name written all over the MLS record books, you won’t hear it from him. Even when he scores the game-winning goal, which he has done 38 times, or leads his team back from an early deficit, he is always looking to give his teammates credit or let them have the spotlight.
3. Persistence: On Wondolowski’s 27th birthday on January 28, 2010, he had seven MLS goals to his name, many of which had come in the previous few months, and had drawn no attention from the U.S. National Team. He had endured countless Reserve League games, a low salary and overwhelming odds to achieve his dream. By comparison, Landon Donovan had already tallied 84 career MLS goals and appeared in two World Cups by the time he turned 27.
4. Pride: Growing up in the Bay Area, Wondolowski takes pride in the fact that he has an opportunity to play for his local club. He has never pursued the glitz and glamour that cities like New York, LA or Chicago can offer, preferring to raise his two daughters where he himself was brought up. He also loves the challenge of trying to lead a smaller-payroll club to the top of MLS, rather than ride the waves of international superstars.
5. Off-Field: In an era where many professional athletes find themselves in hot water for incidents off the field, Wondolowski’s off-field resume includes working with Street Soccer USA and meeting with U.S. Senators in Washington D.C. to raise awareness for Native American health issues.
6. Accountability: Even the greatest of goal scorers have off games from time-to-time and he doesn’t hide from the media or point fingers. In fact, he’s likely to take the blame for poor results whether or not he should.
7. Clarity: Prior to this season, Wondolowski’s Designated Player title was removed after Targeted Allocation Money was used to buy his contract down to below the threshold (his salary didn’t change). He didn’t care like many others might, recognizing the fact that having a DP slot available allowed the team to acquire Simon Dawkins and boost the club’s overall chances of winning MLS Cup.
8. Adversity: Wondolowski’s career has hit a few speed bumps along the way, most notably the way he was treated after the 2014 FIFA World Cup for a shot that apparently wouldn’t have counted anyway. But Wondo hasn’t let that moment define his career. Since returning from the World Cup, he has scored 32 goals in 60 games for San Jose and continues to be a leader for the club on the field and in the community.