SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Chris Wondolowski has never sought credit for his individual accomplishments. So after becoming the first MLS player to post eight consecutive seasons with 10 or more goals on Saturday night, the San Jose Earthquakes captain tried to deflect attention.
He dipped his head, almost apologetically, when the inevitable questions came about his second-half stoppage time penalty kick equalizer in a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union and how it felt to make league history.
“It’s great to be able to do that,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “I take a lot of honor in that, but a lot of the credit goes to my teammates.”
Wondolowski’s 10th goal of 2017 gives him 131 for his career, 14 behind all-time MLS leader Landon Donovan. He is only two behind D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno for third and four behind Jeff Cunningham second. It’s entirely reasonable to believe that Wondolowski will be the MLS scoring king before he hangs up his boots, maybe even before the end of next season
“It’s awesome that Wondo got his tenth goal for eight seasons in a row,” said his teammate of the last six years, Shea Salinas. “I don’t know how far away he is, but if you average 10 to 15 goals per season -- just do the math -- if he can play a few more years, he can do it.”
The magnitude of Wondolowski's accomplishments certainly aren't lost on current Quakes coach Chris Leitch, who was once his teammate.
“It's a testament to a player that has got it done consistently at the highest level for now eight consecutive seasons,” said Leitch. “That's a heck of a feat and testament to what kind of quality player he is, not just in one given season, but season after season. That's tough to do in one season, even more impressive to stack eight on top of one another, and I don't think he's done yet this year, that's for sure."
Wondolowski's story is a familiar one. As an unheralded rookie selected in the 2005 Supplemental Draft, he languished on the bench for the better part of his first five years in MLS, split between the Quakes and the Houston Dynamo while scoring only seven goals. But in 2010, when San Jose installed him as its season opening starting forward, he finished the seaon with 18 goals and the Golden Boot award. And for seven more years, the goals have kept coming.
He shares the single-season goal scoring mark of 27 with Roy Lassiter and Bradley Wright-Phillips, and his 0.53 goals scored per 90 minutes is second best among the league's top 10 all-time scorers. Wondolowski has dropped down from that torrid pace in recent seasons, but his indefatigable drive to stay fit and available for the Earthquakes may yet put Donovan’s league record within sight for the 34-year-old.
“Yeah, I pay attention,” said Wondolowski, matter of factly, “and I know where the numbers are, but I’m still fourteen away, so it’s probably another season.”
Perhaps at this time a year from now, possibly while celebrating his ninth straight season with double digit goals, the league record will be his. Maybe it will come on one of Wondolowski’s signature far post runs, or perhaps it will be a cool finish right in front of goal.
Those who know him best certainly aren't betting against him.
“I don’t doubt him at all,” said Leitch. “If he puts his mind to something, he’s going to do everything in his power to achieve that goal, so I wouldn’t put it past him at all.”