SAN JOSE, Calif. – Historically speaking, Chris Wondolowski has always been loath to give a straight answer when asked if he’s fully healthy.
“Any time I step on the field, I’m 100 percent,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com on Friday, repeating a phrase he’s often used over the years.
But even Wondolowski, the Quakes’ nearly indestructible captain, is willing to admit he’s been at something less than 100-percent peak efficiency since suffering a calf strain against Real Salt Lake earlier this month. And with an unexpected bye week due to Montreal’s qualification into the CONCACAF Champions League final, Wondolowski hopes to get much closer to his top level when San Jose resume their MLS schedule next Friday at RSL (10 pm ET; UDN).
Wondolowski said he first suffered the injury during the first half of an eventual 1-0 loss to RSL on April 5. He started and played 64 minutes in a 1-0 win against Vancouver the following week, but he was held out of a possible start against Mexico for the US national team on April 15 and came off the bench for the final 34 minutes as the Quakes lost 2-0 to New York Red Bulls last weekend.
Wondolowski is one of several Quakes players who are doing limited training this week in an attempt to take advantage of the break. Coach Dominic Kinnear said he felt most of those players – including Wondolowski – would have been available if the Montreal match had gone off as originally planned.
“I felt like I wasn’t [full strength] in the past couple of games because I wasn’t,” Wondolowski said. “A lot of that was my fault because I talked my way out there. I felt like I was 100 percent, but my play was not 100 percent.
“I definitely feel that it’s a lot better, and Friday I’ll be 100 percent in my play and physical ability.”
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The Quakes could use that kind of performance heading into a stretch of three road matches in eight days. San Jose are averaging 1.00 goals per game on the season, tied as of Friday morning with five other clubs for ninth place in MLS. But the Quakes have scored just once – on Sanna Nyassi’s rebound half-volley to beat Vancouver – in their last three matches.
Wondolowski, who leads the Quakes with three goals on the season, has been kept off the scoreboard since converting a penalty kick against New England on March 28. Could the calf problem be a sign of age creeping up on the 32-year-old?
“It’s always a thought, but there’s injuries [at any age],” Wondolowski said. “Knock on wood, they’ve been rare for me. I’m hoping this is just a bit of a hiccup. You never know. You have to always enjoy your time when you have it.”