Chris Wondolowski spent much of this past week laughing at his Twitter followers’ suggestions of his supposed superhuman powers. He was a Greek god. A cure for cancer. A Jedi master. The inspiration for Indiana Jones.
Then on Saturday night, the 2010 Golden Boot winner got back to his real-life superhuman powers: scoring goals. Wondolowski’s first-half brace was the difference for the San Jose Earthquakes as they defeated FC Dallas 2-0 at Pizza Hut Park for their first victory of the season.
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It was extra sweet for Wondolowski, who took last weekend’s season-opening 1-0 loss at home to Real Salt Lake personally.
“I had three great chances [in that game] that I should have finished,” he told MLSsoccer.com by phone after Saturday’s game. “I should have gotten one or two. I put that on me.”
Wondo admitted he concentrated extra hard in training all week to get back into the scoring column – making runs, getting into good positions and, of course, finishing. That work clearly paid off Saturday night as both his goals were assassin-precise.
Just five minutes in, Chris Leitch chipped a lead ball into Wondolowski inside the area. With his back to goal, Wondo chested it down to his right, spun two Dallas defenders and fired a left-footer off one hop past FCD 'keeper Kevin Hartman.
In the 23rd minute, Wondolowski headed a Joey Gjertsen chip from the left side of the box – again, with his back to goal – past Hartman to double a lead the Quakes did not surrender. Both finishes were clinical pieces of work that proved last weekend’s disappointment is in the rearview mirror.
“He doesn’t drop his head and he knows he can finish,” head coach Frank Yallop told reporters after the game. “He’s proved he’s one of the top finishers in the league.”
Yallop agreed that Wondo had trained harder in the past week, but it wasn’t out of any sense of obligation to atone. If anything, said the veteran coach, it was because the goal-scorer wanted to get the team back in the win column.
“Even if he had scored a hat trick last weekend, he’ll come into each game the same,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “He’ll miss some chances – every striker does. He was upset last week, but didn’t come into this one differently. From a coach’s point of view, I don’t worry about him going into a shell.”
Yallop did admit that San Jose still need to figure out a way to take the brunt of the scoring load off Wondolowski, who has been single-handedly responsible for almost every result the Quakes have posted dating back to last fall – he's now scored all 12 of San Jose's last 12 regular-season goals.
With a new contract over the offseason and a more focal role in the offense, there are seemingly all kinds of ways Wondo could feel pressure to produce.
“No, not at all,” he said of that assertion. “Now I feel like I’m playing with house money. There was more pressure on me last year when I was trying to get on the field and stay in the lineup. I’m very confident now. The team is playing really well and we’re happy to head out of [Dallas] with the full three points.”
Yallop had a much more fitting evaluation of his team’s answer to Clark Kent: “He’s something else.”
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