SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With Chris Wondolowski sitting on an MLS-best 11 goals in as many matches, there’s irony in the fact that perhaps the only thing that can cool off the San Jose Earthquakes’ biggest star is another famous scorer: Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Americans have five matches coming up in the next month – three friendlies leading up to a pair of 2014 World Cup qualifiers – and most MLS-based players are expected to be called in after their teams’ matches this weekend. The Quakes host Columbus on Saturday evening (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), giving Wondolowski at least one more opportunity to extend his scoring lead over the rest of the Golden Boot field and impress the US national team boss.
“It’ll be a proud moment if [Wondolowski] does get a call-up,” Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. “For what he’s done over not just this season, but the last three seasons – by playing on a team that’s maybe not creating a ton of chances and still scoring his goals, always being a great teammate and team player.”
Wondolowski debuted with the national team last year and was part of the Americans’ Gold Cup squad last summer. But the idea of playing in a World Cup cycle goes beyond even that honor.
“That would be a dream come true,” Wondolowski expressed. “That’d be the only way I can put it.”
If Wondolowski is called in and named to Klinsmann’s eventual 23-man squad, he would miss two big dates on San Jose’s calendar: next Wednesday’s away match with California rivals LA Galaxy and May 27 at home against Sporting Kansas City.
Given that Wondolowski is tied for the league lead with four game-winning goals, an absence on his part would be significant, although not necessarily fatal. San Jose are 1-1-1 in matches this season where Wondolowski didn’t score, and the Quakes went 2-1-1 last year when Wondolowski was away on Gold Cup duty.
During that latter stretch, Steven Lenhart scored four goals – including his first MLS hat trick at D.C. United – and Simon Dawkins had a pair. Both players are healthy and ready to pick up the slack this time around as well.
“We’d miss Chris, for sure, but we’ve got other players that are capable of [stepping in],” Yallop said. “Chris gets to play every week, so it will be a chance for someone else to get a run up top if he does go. I feel confident in our team, that we can carry the two games.”
Although Wondolowski said earlier this year that he has been staying in touch with Klinsmann after appearing in the Americans’ January training camp, he claimed to have no indication either way of what the coach is thinking at the moment.
“I’m just trying to keep my fingers crossed and see what happens,” Wondolowski said. “It would be something special.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.