The San Jose Earthquakes were eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, so in many ways, striker Chris Wondolowski’s quest to become the first repeat Golden Boot winner in MLS history is the silver lining for the team.
As in 2010, when a late hot streak saw Wondolowski win the 2010 Golden Boot, he is making another late-season surge in the race for this year’s award. In Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders, he notched his 5th goal in his last four games to bring his season tally to 15, tied for the goalscoring lead with D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle 2, San Jose 1
“It’s that time of year,” Wondolowski admitted after the game. “Goalscorers go through hot spells and cold spells. I’m on a hot one right now.”
“He’s a goal scorer,” Quakes head coach Frank Yallop said matter-of-factly after the 2-1 loss to Seattle. “He’s got 15 this season. No penalty kicks. That’s a good tally for someone in any league.”
Wondolowski’s goal against Seattle came in the 24th minute, when he galloped in behind the defense, collected Rafael Baca’s through pass, and calmly stroked the ball past the lunging Kasey Keller. It was a goal-scorer’s goal, like so many of Wondolowski’s.
But the side was unable to make the scoreline hold up. Wondolowski had several other good chances to score, including a header early in the second half that was blocked spectacularly by a sprawling Keller. Those saves set the Sounders up to snatch three points after two late strikes, from Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero.
“If we get the second goal, that changes everything,” Yallop said. “The way that the unit played tonight, I was happy with that. Obviously very disappointed we didn’t get at least a point out of it, if not three. It’s upsetting to play that well and not get a result.”
“I’d rather not score and win 1-0 than score and lose,” Wondolowski said.
A win would do nothing for the Quakes’ season at this point. But the prospect of a second straight Golden Boot for Wondolowski should give the players and fans a reason to do more than just see out the year.
It won’t be easy. The Quakes have only one more match — at home to in-form FC Dallas next Saturday — while De Rosario and D.C. have two more.
“I hope the team plays well,” Wondolowski said. “There will be chances, and I’ll try to finish them. One thing I know is: We won’t roll over.”