As the MLS season halted suddenly earlier this month amid the coronavirus pandemic, San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, his wife Lindsey and their two daughters packed up shop and headed to the family vacation cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The MLS all-time leading scorer is doing his best to virtually impart his wealth of Northern California knowledge to teammates who need it. It might be alerting them to an important government announcement, or suggesting a not-so-crowded grocery store.
“Some of these guys, a lot of these guys on the team are internationals who might have a wife or kid back in another country. Or maybe they are here on a visa and can’t travel, and don’t know the ins and outs of California,” Wondolowski explains. “Gov. [Gavin] Newsom is making an address to the state, and they might not even know who the governor is.”
And eventually, he knows there will be a time to get involved in community relief efforts, as he did when he hosted a benefit soccer camp for victims of the Camp Fire in December, 2018 at his alma mater, Chico State.
“I do want to get out there, and I do want to help in any way,” he said. “But right now you almost have to stay away to help. It’s kind of a weird feeling, because you do see people out there in need.”
Until then, he and his teammates have been warned by manager Matias Almeyda they have to stick to the workouts the training staff has given them and keep up the fitness they built in preseason. And as strange as Wondolowski feels away from his teammates in March, he suspects it’s even tougher for the charismatic Argentine coach.
Entre todos podemos, les pido a los azuleños que estemos más unidos que nunca. Por favor quédense en casa, cuídense y cuiden al prójimo pic.twitter.com/PC1R7rkDT8— Matías Jesús Almeyda (@peladoalmeyda) March 24, 2020
“He’s definitely flustered in a sense, where he wants to be out there, as we all do,” Wondolowski said of Almeyda. “But he has a great message and knows that this is a lot bigger than all of us, and we need to [suspend the season] to keep this world safe. And so I loved his message. But he also told us that, once these doors open again, we are going to be ready to go. It’s not going to be building up to go. We are going to be coming out of the gates flying. And make sure you’re ready, whatever it takes.
“I think it’s been a great message. And I think that he is probably more bored than all of us.”