ORLANDO, Fla. – It would have been impossible to fathom a few years ago, but nowadays, US men's national team camp is a familiar place for Chris Wondolowski.
That's what happens when you emerge as arguably the best goalscorer in Major League Soccer, contending for the Golden Boot for a third season in a row. But despite the remarkable run that has led the San Jose Earthquakes star here, though, one important milestone is still missing from his ever-expanding list of achievements: He has yet to score a goal at the international level.
But in his second camp under Jurgen Klinsmann, it's evident the powers that be see something they like in the 29-year-old, and Wondo has a chance to make the final cut before 2014 World Cup qualifying kicks off for the USNMT next month.
“It’s a true honor,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “I just want to try to do my best and show that I can play at this level.”
Coaches will be keeping a close eye on the forward as the team prepares for a friendly in Jacksonville on Saturday against Scotland (8:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).
Although Wondolowski has proven his worth in MLS over the past few years, he’s yet to carry that same effectiveness over into international play.
“Forward is a funny thing,” Wondolowski said. “All you can do is try to create chances and then finish them when you get the opportunity. I haven’t been able to do that [internationally] and that’s on me.”
Not for a lack of trying, of course. Wondolowski was initially called into January camp last year and got his first taste of action on the international stage in a friendly against Chile under former head coach Bob Bradley. He didn't score then, and had an experience at last summer's Gold Cup that made him wonder if he'd ever get called in again.
He was, of course, in this year's January camp by Klinsmann. Wondo logged 83 minutes in wins over Venezuela and Panama, but still couldn't open his scoring account in a US shirt. That's contrasted fantastically with his club performance. He's off to the hottest start in MLS this season, with 11 goals in 12 games.
That's on the back of narrowly missing a second straight Golden Boot last year, when he lost out to Dwayne De Rosario on a tiebreaker just 12 months after winning the award outright. To Wondolowski, his professional success is no secret.
“It’s been the combination of getting the opportunities from the coaches and having a great team around me,” he said.
He credits his San Jose teammates for helping to create those opportunities, as he’s shown a knack for stretching defenses and finding open spots away from the ball.
But no matter what Klinsmann decides come Friday, when he's expected to trim the roster, Wondolowski is planning to get the most out of his time training with the best players his country has to offer.
“It brings out the best in you,” he said. “Every day, you have to be on top of your game. It’s a good tool for me to learn from the different types of strikers who are out here.”
And just maybe, Wondo will do what he does best in a different type of competition.