SAN JOSE, Calif. – There was a common theme for the San Jose Earthquakes entering the Matias Almeyda era: These are exciting times.
Quakes talisman Chris Wondolowski said the arrival of the 2018 Concacaf Coach of the Year has brought in a refreshing new attitude to the club.
“To a man everybody is excited for the new identity and the new mentality that all of us have and we’re rejuvenated for the season,” Wondolowski said during San Jose's media day on Wednesday.
With the team admittedly not on the same page during a 2018 campaign that brought just four wins and saw coach Mikael Stahre sacked during his lone season with the club, the longtime Quakes captain is all-in on Almeyda and his vision of bringing the team together as one.
“A lot of it has to do with bringing the best out yourself and also the unity. The mentality of no cliques and everybody coming together and having that brotherhood is the basic message,” Wondolowski explained.
While Wondolowski is focusing on being the best teammate and captain he can be, he enters his 15th season in the league needing just two goals to break Landon Donovan’s all-time MLS goal scoring record.
“I wish it was done so I didn’t have to think about it all offseason,” said Wondolowski. “It’s the elephant in the room, but that being said I just want to do everything I can to help us win.”
The team-first attitude Wondolowski takes when asked about his upcoming individual accomplishment is not lost on his teammates, making it that much more important for them to help him break the record.
“He would say it’s not important, but me personally, I’d love see him get the record and I’d love to pass him the ball to get the record,” said Wondolowski’s longtime teammate, Shea Salinas. “It’s big time. I expect him to get it early and we’ll be excited to celebrate with him.”
While everyone else is focused on #WondoWatch, the man himself is busy with his own set of goals that he has written down for 2019.
“This year it’s wins. I want double-digit wins and I want to be lifting a cup. Whether it’s the U.S. Open Cup, MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield, I want to be lifting a cup this year one way or another.”
Lifting that cup seems like a tall order for the team that lifted the wooden spoon in 2018, but the club legend recalls the 2012 Supporters' Shield winners who overcame the long odds to win silverware.
“In this league there is a lot of parity and that’s something that makes this league funny and quirky at times, but it’s also one of the things that drives it and is special about this league is that you can go worst to first and nobody blinks an eye,” he said.