MLS's all-time leading scorer may not be done yet. After announcing ahead of the 2020 season that he planned for this year to be his last as a professional, San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski has declared that his intention is to play a 17th season in MLS.
"I still want to play one more year,” Wondolowski told the Bay Area News Group this week.
But it's not entirely up to him: Wondolowski signed a one-year deal back in October 2019 that expires at the end of this season. If he can't come to an agreement on a new deal with the Earthquakes after the 2020 campaign, he would become a free agent per eligibility rules.
What's clear is that Wondolowski has shown that he retains his predatory instincts in front of goal, scoring a team-leading seven goals for the Quakes to take his all-time MLS-leading tally to 166. Those goals helped secure San Jose a return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, where they will take on Sporting Kansas City on Sunday (4 pm ET | TV & streaming info).
In light of the pandemic-impacted season, the former US international, who turns 38 in January, has repeatedly said that he would reevaluate his decision at the season's end. However, while he says he's waiting until the end of the season to have concrete discussions about his future with Quakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli and head coach Matias Almeyda, his preference is clear.
"I can’t help but look forward and look toward the future because it is not a sure thing,” he said.
While Wondolowski explained that one of his motivations for playing on is so he can enjoy a proper farewell in a full stadium, he credited the layoff during the league's suspension due to COVID-19 earlier this year with helping to reinvigorate him.
"I’m having a lot of fun," he told The Athletic as part of a recent feature on the Earthquakes legend. "I still feel strong, still feel like I’m able to physically do it, I think that was always the question for me. To be honest, last year I was questioning if I could, so I really concentrated and I think quarantine actually kind of helped. It kind of reinvigorated kind of a health kick for me, which has helped."
While he may be looking to next season, he is not yet ready for this one to end. San Jose will be the undoubted underdogs against the West's No. 1 seed SKC but Wondolowski is relishing the challenge.
“Our style kind of fits the underdog label where we’re very high energy and we want to go and impose our game out there," he told KNBR’s Murph & Mac show on Monday. "And when we’re able to win the ball and be able to press them high up the field and win the ball in good areas, that’s usually a recipe for success for us. I think that’s what we’re going to try to do, I think that we have stay very organized.
"Kansas City is a very talented team. They finished first in the West for a reason. But that being said, I think we can actually match up well against them and in the playoffs three games to a final – it’s something that we’re looking forward to. This is the first step and it’s going to be a tough one but we’re excited for it.”