SAN JOSE, Calif. – Chris Wondolowski is faced with a situation that leaves him the envy of pretty much every other striker on Earth:
He’s scoring so many goals, he’s running low on ideas how to properly celebrate them.
“I’m not running out, I’m just not very creative,” Wondolowski sheepishly admitted Friday after San Jose finished training in advance of their match Sunday against Chivas USA (7 pm ET, Galavision). “I’m not a big celebrator.”
GOAL: Wondo heads San Jose ahead
Already this year, Wondolowski has performed B.J. Raji’s “Discount Double Check” dance, and knelt down on one knee to pantomime firing a bow and arrow in honor of his grandmother and their Native American heritage.
But with a league-leading 11 goals in the Quakes’ first 10 matches, Wondolowski is feeling the heat from his co-workers to come up with some more variety and really let loose.
That’s where the problems arise.
“I said, ‘I have nothing,’” Wondolowski explained. “That’s not my game. Someone like Chad Ochocinco, they know what they’re doing, but that’s not necessarily me.”
Players watch tape all the time to learn moves from other greats – couldn’t Wondolowski learn from footage of Ochocinco, the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver and former Sporting Kansas City trialist?
“He’s done some amazing ones,” Wondolowski said of Ochocinco’s touchdown celebrations. “I’ve seen his. I couldn’t do that. I’m not a good dancer. I can’t do the Nani side backflip. I can’t do anything athletic. That’s why I usually just run and jump.”
Wondolowski has put himself in position to perhaps run and jump past everyone in the MLS record book with his hottest start as a professional. He’s scored 17 goals in his last 15 league matches, including the end of 2011, and is on pace for 37 goals this year. Such a total would obliterate Roy Lassiter’s single-season league record of 27, set with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996 during MLS’ inaugural season.
Wondolowski, however, is paying more attention to San Jose’s placement in the Western Conference standings after they burst out of the gate 7-2-1 – they’re tied for second with Seattle, one point behind Real Salt Lake – than to his own lofty status or what kind of threat he could pose to Lassiter’s mark.
“To be honest, 27 goals – that’s something,” Wondolowski said. “That’s why it’s the record now. My goal is to break the MLS record in wins. If we do that, then that means something. Even if it’s the game-winning goals [record], I’ll take that one. That’s the one that would mean more.”
San Jose coach Frank Yallop played with Lassiter on that ’96 Mutiny squad, so he’s seen both Lassiter and Wondolowski on an up-close-and-personal basis. But Yallop won’t speculate when it comes to the location of his star striker’s ceiling.
“When there’s chances flying around, Chris will get some," Yallop said. "If we’re creating a lot of chances, he’ll score a lot of goals. If we hit a bit of a patch where we don’t create much, then Wondo won’t get as many chances to score goals. Looking at the way we’re playing, and the way he’s finishing, who knows?”
Nobody knows, of course, but Quakes midfielder Rafael Baca has his dreams set high for his teammate.
“I hope he gets 30 goals this year,” Baca told MLSsoccer.com. “I think he can get that. We know that if we put the ball where he wants it, he’ll put it in the back of the net.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.