Goal machine Wondolowski returning the favor in 2012

In 2011, Chris Wondolowski tied Dwayne De Rosario with 16 goals, but the San Jose Earthquakes star lost his chance for a second consecutive Golden Boot award by having only three assists to De Rosario’s dozen.

Wondolowski seems determined to make sure that never happens again.

In addition to netting his 19th goal with a 40th-minute penalty kick in the Quakes’ 2-0 victory at Chivas USA on Saturday, Wondolowski also delivered his seventh assist of 2012, teeing up Alan Gordon in the 49th minute for the clincher.

Seeing Wondolowski atop the league leader board for goals is hardly surprising anymore – he’s been first or tied for that spot in both of the last two seasons, has led the league for much of this year and the 19 goals represents a career best.

The assists are another story – with No. 7, Wondolowski has doubled his total from seven previous MLS seasons.

“Chris is always in good spots, and I think he’s looking for his teammates now,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. “They’re making good runs and he’s making good choices with the ball in the final third. It’s not always a shot for Chris. Obviously, he’s a goalscorer, but he’s adding another string to his bow, if you like, with his assist play this season.”

OPTA Chalkboard: Quakes, Chivas surprisingly statistically even

In one way, Wondolowski was merely returning a favor with his assist, which was his second in as many games against Chivas; it was Gordon who suffered an off-ball elbow from defender John Valencia to earn the penalty.

The sequence began with Justin Morrow’s low cross, which drew a near-post run from Mehdi Ballouchy, making his first start with the Quakes since coming over in a July trade with New York.

Ballouchy dummied the ball on to Wondolowski just inside the top of Chivas’ penalty box, and he touched it into Gordon’s path for the target man to hammer home.

“It was just great movement, an easy job of laying it off and a heck of a finish by Alan,” Wondolowski said. “Those goals are a bit special because it involves six or seven guys that are intricate parts of it. I know only one or two guys get the assists, but it was one of those team goals.”

Wondolowski came into the Home Depot Center having failed to score from the run of play in his previous seven league matches, so he could have been forgiven if he’d had a rip at the ball. But to Wondolowski, passing was nothing more complicated than making the right play given the circumstances.

“I had my back to goal,” Wondolowski explained. “I always was told to try to play the way you’re facing, and Alan definitely had a good shot. Let him finish it.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com.

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