SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop feels that striker Chris Wondolowski’s pursuit of the MLS all-time single-season scoring record has been “hanging over him a little bit,” even as Wondolowski fired home 25 goals to help the Quakes go 19-6-7 thus far in 2012.
“Chris is having a great season with us, and it was like, ‘Are you going to get the record?’" Yallop said on Friday. "I think he wasn’t even thinking about it. He wants to win for us. That’s all he’s done.”
Plenty of folks are thinking about it now.
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With a Buck Shaw Stadium crowd that should include MLS Commissioner Don Garber and current MLS record-holder Roy Lassiter, Wondolowski will take the field on Sunday against the LA Galaxy (7 pm ET, Galavision) needing just three goals in his last two matches to break the league’s single-season scoring mark, set at 27 in 1996 by Lassiter.
“It would mean a lot,” Wondolowski said of potentially breaking the record. “It’s a huge part of the history books. I like to think of myself as someone who studies the game, knows a lot about the game, so to be a part of it would be nice, but I won’t lose sleep over it if I don’t. It’s a win-win for me.”
Given that Wondolowski has seven goals in San Jose’s last five matches — with a hat trick in the most recent game, a 4-1 win at Colorado on Oct. 6 — it’s not wishful thinking, but good planning to have Lassiter on hand for the match vs. LA. The Quakes and Galaxy have combined for 12 goals in their two earlier meetings this season, games in which defenses on either side were shredded repeatedly.
“Both games were end-to-end, and I think both teams like to attack,” Yallop said. “If you look at the lineups, they have attacking players on the field. A central midfield of [David] Beckham and Juninho, they’re not sitting back and trying to defend, they’re going to try to score. And you look at our lineup, and it’s attacking as well. I expect goals again.”
But how many of them will be from Wondolowski?
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“He’s pretty hot right now,” Yallop said. “I hope he does it. He’s looking real confident in front of goal, so that’s a good thing.”
As for the idea of being weighed down by the focus on his chase, Wondolowski brushes that notion aside.
“It’s just questions,” Wondolowski said. “You’re going to answer them, you’re going to talk about them throughout the week, but once that whistle blows and you’re out there, it’s a game. You’re trying to win, you’re trying to help your team any way possible.
"There’ll always be chances out there; it’s on me to finish them. That’s the great thing about this team, we’ll be creating a lot of opportunities. I’ve just got to finish a couple.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.