CARSON, Calif. – The goals are nice, and Chris Wondolowski has a knack for scoring them, as he demonstrated again in the US national team's 2-0 win over South Korea on Saturday. But it's what enables him to hit the net – the work he puts in, how he studies the game – that has the San Jose Earthquakes forward knocking on the door to Brazil.
Wondolowski scored fine finishers' goals in the fourth and 60th minutes Saturday at StubHub Center, enhancing his appeal as Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff assesses who'll be among the 23 players headed to the World Cup in late spring.
“I think Wondo is a wonderful example of if you are committed, if you are hungry, if you give everything you have over a long period of time, sooner of later you get rewarded for it,” Klinsmann said in his postgame news conference. “For two-and-a-half years now, we are working together, and in every training session and every day he came in, he gave everything he has. And that's just really nice to see, that a player like him is just waiting for his chances but also hungry for his chances.
“He's a pure finisher, and he smells where the ball will fall or drop in the box, and he's just right there and puts it in. He follows his first thought and just gets it done, and it's really a reward for his commitment, for his attitude, for his character. It's cool.”
He finished purely against the Koreans, maneuvering into the correct spot to nod home the rebound after Brad Davis' blast was parried by Jung Sung-Ryong at the start and then to fire to the upper-right corner after Landon Donovan got a touch on a Graham Zusi pass in the second half.
“Tonight was Wondo being Wondo, just being in the right place at the right time,” Zusi said. “He's so good at doing that. But you know what, you've got to finish it as well, and he did that, so two great finishes from him. He's a goalscorer. What else can I say?”
It was Wondolowski's third multiple-goal game for the Yanks, following the hat trick against Belize and two-goal performance against Cuba in their first two CONCACAF Gold Cup matches last summer. It will only help his standing.
“Scoring goals always helps, right?” Donovan said. “I thought he did well. His positioning was good. His running is always good, his work ethic is good, he's a great guy to be around, he fits into the team well, and then when you get on the end of two plays and you make good plays, it's going to help your cause a lot.”
Wondolowski said all the right things afterward, crediting the buildup for the goals and calling them a product of “a lot of work and study,” and he acknowledged he's got to keep working to have a chance of going to Brazil.
“That's so far down [the road], you can't player the numbers game of this situation,” he said. “All you can do is hope for a call-up, and when you get one, you try to make the most of it whenever you can. Just let your work do the talking.”