SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Perhaps no member of the San Jose Earthquakes is more keenly aware of the passing of time than Chris Wondolowski.
With games rolling off the calendar and an expected call-up to the US national team’s World Cup camp looming, San Jose’s captain is growing more concerned by his club’s 1-3-4 start to the season.
“We’re almost a fourth of the way into the season; we’ve got to stop having little steppingstones,” Wondolowski told reporters in the wake of the Quakes’ scoreless draw with Colorado on Wednesday. “We’ve got to take some steps and take some leaps. Otherwise, we’re going to get passed up.
“Especially at home, these are games we have to win and games we should win. … We have to take this and build on it and start getting wins. We’ve got to stop looking for the silver linings and start producing.”
Heading into a Saturday match against visiting FC Dallas (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live), the Quakes have just six points in five matches at Buck Shaw Stadium this year. In 17 MLS seasons, that’s San Jose’s second-lowest rate of accumulating points at home – only 1997’s 6-10 mark generated less help in the standings.
There would have been two more points if Wondolowski’s 88th-minute attempt from seven yards hadn’t been nicked into the post by Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin. That’s one of only five shots on goal Wondolowski has enjoyed in the last four matches, when San Jose coach Mark Watson made a tactical shift to address the fact that the Quakes were being outnumbered in the center of midfield.
Wondolowski still leads the Quakes with five goals and picked up a brace last weekend at Vancouver while playing under target man Alan Gordon, but his heat maps have shown the extra effort that he’s been having to make in a 15-yard band extending forward from the midfield stripe.
It’s a fine line to walk, maximizing the strength in midfield while not taking away potential opportunities for Wondolowski, but Watson sees it as a necessary move away from the Quakes’ former 4-4-2 look.
“Chris has to be a part of the build-up,” Watson said Wednesday. “It’s part of the modern game. I don’t think we can just stand with two guys up front. It’s been done in the past, but the game’s changed a lot. So we want Chris being involved and helping us at least get to the attacking third, when we can then attack their goal. We certainly want Chris in the box when we’re attacking their goal.”
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Wondolowski obviously wouldn’t mind that, either.
“That’s part of the game, dropping in and helping defensively, but [also] getting in the box and trying to score as well,” Wondolowski said. “I’m just trying to find both.”