FRISCO, Texas – To say San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski has terrorized the Western Conference this season would be an understatement. Even if you only counted his 19 games against in-conference opponents, Wondolowski would still be leading the MLS Golden Boot race with 15 goals.
But there’s one team in the Western Conference he hasn’t scored against this season: FC Dallas, who visit San Jose's Buck Shaw Stadium for a crucial rematch Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I hope he doesn’t make it up this game,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “I think we focus really well on him. He’s such a good player. All the praise that we can give to any player in the league, he deserves it.”
By hook or by crook, FC Dallas has kept Wondo off the scoresheet in their previous two encounters this season. During the scoreless draw between the two sides in Frisco on July 7, Wondolowski saw a first-half effort robbed by a Hernan Pertuz goal-line clearance and Kevin Hartman stopped a potential game-winner in the 86th minute just inches before it crossed the goal line.
WATCH: Pertuz prevents Wondo's 15th
“He’s going to get opportunities. He’s a player that puts himself in wonderful places,” Hartman said. “He works hard and a lot of it comes from the fact that he didn’t have success at the highest levels until recently. He had to come into the league and work. That workmanlike attitude has a way of getting you opportunities.”
The second meeting saw Wondolowski score what he thought was a penalty-kick goal to put the ‘Quakes up by three in the match, but his effort was called back due to encroachment by a teammate and Hartman saved his second try.
“We’ve made some saves [on him] and fortunately the first PK was called back,” Hartman said. “He pretty much hit me with the ball almost on the second shot.”
The danger of the Earthquakes, and one of the major reasons they are odds-on favorites to win the Supporter’s Shield, is that they’re much more than just Wondolowski. FC Dallas saw that firsthand in their 2-1 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium, where they were defeated by goals from supporting cast members Marvin Chavez and Alan Gordon.
“You have to match their intensity, because they’re going to be physical at the beginning to try to get in your head,” defender Matt Hedges told MLSsoccer.com. “You just have to match it through the whole game and we’ll be alright.”
Still, Dallas knows that shutting down “Wondo” for a third straight game would give them a great chance at grabbing some crucial points that could pull them back into a playoff spot for the first time since late April.
“He has an uncanny ability of being in the right place at the right time,” Hyndman said. “But hopefully we can extend that [scoreless] streak another game.”