SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Earthquakes’ marketing campaign from last season used the tagline, “Unleash Your Passion.”
But after picking up a yellow card for expletive-laden dissent two weeks ago and getting caught on camera castigating a teammate Saturday, is Quakes star Chris Wondolowski unleashing a little too much passion?
Wondolowski said Tuesday that he was in the wrong for yelling at second-year San Jose attacker Sam Garza in the 78th minute of the Quakes’ 1-1 tie at Columbus. Wondolowski was frustrated at getting open at the back post but being made to watch helplessly as Garza eschewed a square pass, then pulled a shot wide of the Crew goal.
Yet the league’s reigning MVP also said repeatedly that the incident -- which drew comments on Twitter and around the MLS blogosphere -- had been “blown out of proportion” by the fact that a camera zoomed in for a close-up of his fiery, R-rated reaction.
“It’s just one of those things that’s been caught on [camera],” Wondolowski said. “To be honest, I’ve kind of been that way since high school. I know I need to channel it in different ways. I need to not use the language I’ve used. That’s 100 percent sure. I’m not sure I’m too passionate. It could be. I’ve got to re-evaluate it.”
Wondolowski said his reaction was nothing personal against Garza, but still “crossed the line,” which is why he sought Garza out immediately after the game to make amends.
“It’s not at him,” Wondolowski said. “It’s not towards you, the person you are. It’s just at that moment, I wish something would have been different. If he scores that, I’m the first one tackling him. I’m the first one celebrating with him. If he gets on frame, I’m saying, ‘Hey, good job.’ You miss frame? It’s just one of those things.”
Wondolowski also tweeted his regrets:
My intensity got the best of me yesterday and I crossed the line. I love and support my teammates %100 and will always have their backs.— Chris Wondolowski (@ChrisWondo) March 17, 2013
Quakes coach Frank Yallop acted a little mystified by all the media attention paid to Wondolowski’s outburst, feeling it was nothing out of the ordinary -- and that Wondolowski is hardly the only professional guilty of such conduct.
“If you catch everything on camera that people say, you ought to watch me on the bench,” Yallop said. “I mean, I’m ripping at guys, but I don’t mean it. I want to win ... Stuff like that goes on. It’s a man’s game ... That’s been going on since the sport started.”
Although Wondolowski said he was “embarrassed” by the situation, Yallop cautioned against too radical a change in his on-field demeanor.
“He’s a 100 percenter,” Yallop said. “He won’t settle for anything other than the best, if you like. If that ever comes out of his game, then he’s in trouble, because that’s what makes him tick, and I think it’s terrific. He just wants to do the best he can and it comes out. And that’s not a bad thing.”
It wasn’t a bad thing in Houston, either, where Wondolowski cut his teeth professionally as part of the relocated original Quakes franchise.
So, Wondolowski was asked, if you had been in Garza’s shoes six years ago and Brian Ching was lurking open at the back post, would you have passed or shot?
“If I do shoot it, and I have done, I’ve gotten cussed out as well,” Wondolowski said. “You grow up playing with Eddie Robinson, Brian Ching, Craig Waibel, you learn passion. And again, just like those guys, it’s nothing personal ... There’s nothing wrong with us. We still have a lot of love for each other.”