MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski to play through injury vs. LA Galaxy before joining USMNT
STANFORD, Calif. — Chris Wondolowski wasn’t about to miss the San Jose Earthquakes’ biggest crowd of the year — especially not when it could be his last MLS performance for more than a month.
Wondolowski, who missed the Quakes’ 1-0 road loss against D.C. United last weekend after suffering a right foot contusion in practice, was a full participant in San Jose’s Thursday training session at Stanford Stadium. Even better for Quakes fans, Wondolowski said that he would be ready to play Saturday at Stanford when San Jose host the LA Galaxy before an expected total of more than 40,000 fans (10:30 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com FREE Stream of the Week).
“I’ve just got to play through it,” said Wondolowski, who thumped several well-struck shots with both feet during finishing drills after the media was allowed onto the field. “I can’t do any worse damage to it, and so it’s just [a matter of] getting through it. I know I can, and I know I will.”
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The Quakes would love it if Wondolowski — who leads the club with five goals but has been shut out since May 8 — could leave Stanford with a bon voyage tally or two. Wondolowski was named Thursday to the 23-man roster that the US national team will take into group play at next month’s Gold Cup, and will join the Americans in San Diego on Monday.
“We selfishly don’t want Chris to go,” Quakes interim coach Mark Watson said. “We want him to be here for every game. We’re in a tough situation; we want all our players available. But it’s a great honor to play for your country. He’s worked hard, he’s done really well. He deserves another opportunity.”
The Gold Cup final is set for July 28 in Chicago, so if Wondolowski -- who has nine career caps for the USMNT -- goes all the way to Soldier Field, he would miss four MLS matches and the Quakes’ international friendly against Norwich City of the Barclays Premier League.
“A lot of us aren’t used to not seeing Wondo out there,” veteran Quakes defender Jason Hernandez said earlier this week. “Any time you lose someone who’s been an integral part of your lineup, it’s going to take a little bit of adjusting.”
Even though Wondolowski has dropped far off the pace of last year’s record-setting 27 goal haul -- which tied for the best single-season total in MLS history -- USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann wants to see what the reigning MVP can offer. It might be the last, best chance the 30-year-old will have to score his first goal in international play.
“The stats haven’t been there [in 2013], but it’s just one of those things,” Wondolowski said. “[Klinsmann] just told me that he knows I’ll give 100 percent effort and just told me to bring the best of my ability and try to help any way I can.”
Geoff Lepper covers the San Jose Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com.