Forward is productive this season.During the off season, the San Jose Earthquakes spent a lot of effort trying to find a good complement to 2009's leading scorer, Ryan Johnson, adding several weapons for additional offensive punch. Little did the club know that they already had the perfect patner to Johnson on their 2009 roster - Chris Wondolowski.
Wondolowski, who didn’t enter a game until the third match of the season, has been nothing short of amazing, forcing coach Frank Yallop to leave his new, not-so-secret weapon, on the pitch.
"It’s never a great thing," said Wondolowski of the Quakes adding players to potentially take his spot on the roster. "But I know my job here. They are trying to make the team better. When I have my chance, I’ll have to make the best of it."
Wondolowski has done just that, starting, and scoring, in each of the three games he’s played, including the lone goal in the team’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
"Wondo is a good player, that’s the reason he’s here," said Yallop. "It’s nice for a fellow like him to get the headlines, and he deserves it."
Wondolowski scored the first of his three 2010 goals in the team’s 2-0 win over the New England Revolution, a scrappy goal that he put in from a couple feet away. His second goal, in the club’s 3-2 loss to Chivas USA last weekend, was a penalty. His goal on Saturday night, however, showed off the finishing touch he possesses.
Ramiro Corrales dispossessed the Rapids in the Earthquakes defensive third and served a ball targeting Johnson’s feet. The Jamaican alertly flicked the ball toward the Rapids goal, seeking an onrushing Wondolowski, who took his first touch toward goal.
Despite being draped over by Rapids defenders, Wondolowski ripped a shot toward the upper portion of the net, beating Colorado 'keeper Matt Pickens as the ball slammed off the lower part of the crossbar and into the net for the lone goal of the night.
"Ramiro played a very good ball in, and Ryan Johnson came across and was able to get a crucial touch on the ball," said Wondolowski about the development of the play. "I was able to make a run behind and finish it."
It may not be something the fans are used to seeing out of Wondolowski, but Yallop felt it was a standard Wondolowski strike.
"Tonight was a typical Wondo goal that we see everyday at practice," said Yallop. "He can really hit a ball. When he’s confident and feeling good about himself, he’s good."
Yallop thought the team was playing better because players showed more belief and trust in one another to get the job done. Wondolowski was one to spread the love to all his teammates, including Johnson, who was the facilitator on his tally Saturday night.
"I owe it a lot to the good play around me," said Wondolowski. "I pride myself on being a good finisher, but I owe it a lot to Ryan Johnson, who has been playing really well. It makes my job a lot easier to play off of him."
As a team, the Earthquakes have performed well against one of the stronger MLS teams (Colorado is currently tied for second in the Western Conference), going 8-0-3 in the last 11 meetings.
With Wondolowski on a hot streak, the injured Earthquakes have an opportunity to heal. Wondolowski hoped that the improved health of the regulars would not take him out of the lineup.
“Knock on wood, a couple losses," said Wondolowski about what it would take for Yallop to take him out of the starting 11. "Hopefully, that’s not in the cards right now."
Wondolowski will most likely be penciled in by Yallop as the starting forward aside Johnson next weekend when the Earthquakes host the New York Red Bulls on May 8.
For more on Major League Soccer, visit Goal.com's MLS page and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!