SAN JOSE, Calif. — Happy birthday, Chris Wondolowski!
While abounding association accept to bless their birthdays with style, the San Jose Earthquakes brilliant will be focused on substance, as the anew minted 37-year-old cobweb through two-a-day trainings in Cancun as allotment of the team’s preseason.
The adept advanced and best arch MLS goalscorer would be forgiven for allurement to booty it easy, but that is not Wondolowski’s way, and with the advertisement that 2020 will be his aftermost MLS season, he wants to flavor every aftermost bit of the acquaintance — good, bad, or ugly.
“Absolutely, I appetite to go in with no regrets,” Wondolowski said. “I affectionate of anticipate it speaks for itself. I appetite to adore it and accept fun, so I don’t appetite to anticipate about what-ifs, don’t appetite to leave out annihilation on the field, so I’m aloof activity to go out there and adore it.”
Just win, baby
Since Wondolowski entered MLS in 2005, an backward advanced from a Division II bookish program, he’s abstruse to adore every moment of his career. From assertive the old Reserve League, to benumbed the bank with the Houston Dynamo, to assuredly accepting his breach aback with the Quakes in 2010, Wondo has catholic on a different aisle for his 15 MLS seasons. He about larboard the bold aboriginal on, aback money was bound and arena time nonexistent, but he persevered, and today can acknowledge the journey.
“I am attractive advanced to aloof enjoying, you know, everything,” Wondolowski shared. “Every alley trip, the aftermost times for this, the practices, the aftermost preseason, aloof like, alike the little things, and I’m activity to booty it with a austere aspect of it and assignment harder than I accept and leave annihilation on the table. But I additionally appetite to adore and appetite anniversary moment, anniversary moment as it comes, because we consistently antic about that the canicule are long, but the years are short, so I’m attractive advanced to it.”
Wondolowski was the league’s MVP in 2012, the year the Earthquakes captured the Supporters’ Shield, and he angry the again almanac for goals in an MLS division with 27. It was the aiguille of his career, and it additional him into the U.S. men’s civic aggregation and a abode on the 2014 Apple Cup roster.
But added success in MLS was limited, abnormally as the Quakes struggled to one playoff actualization in the aftermost seven seasons. Wondolowski did abide accomplishing claimed milestones — extensive double-digit goals in ten beeline seasons and casual Landon Donovan on the league’s scoring blueprint in 2019 — but the trophies eluded him, and he’s able to do all he can to accomplishment on a aerial note.
“Win. I appetite to win, that’s it,” Wondolowski said. “I don’t accept to anguish about any records, annihilation else. Whatever job is bare for me to do, I’m accommodating to do it. If it’s advancing off the bench, I’m activity to do that. If it’s handing out water, I’m activity to be the best baptize boy there is. Honestly, I will do whatever it takes to win this year.”
After arch the Earthquakes in scoring aftermost division and about allegorical his aggregation to the playoffs, Wondolowski knows that his retirement division can still be one of his best. He accustomed to preseason in accomplished shape, finishing fourth in the abominable beep analysis and assault guys bisected his age, and his teammates accept noticed. It’s not artlessly about acceptable one for the backward Wondo — rather it’s agriculture off their captain’s activity and enthusiasm.
“It would be massive,” apostle Nick Lima said. “That’s everyone’s ambition and that would be the absolute ride off into the sunset.”
At age 37, Wondolowski is one of the oldest players in MLS, and his adeptness to accumulate up with his teammates and opponents will be put to the test. He doesn’t appetite to adhere on for too long, which prompted his retirement decision, but he doesn’t agnosticism his abilities for an instant. And whether he’s the Earthquakes approved amateur or super-sub off the bank in 2020, he’ll be accessible to accord it his all for the team.
“Yeah, absolutely, and I accept and apprehend my role will change and apparently change acutely in that sense,” Wondolowski said. “But I accept additionally witnessed a lot of MLS seasons, and they are connected and arduous and there’s consistently some array of application in the year area if you break advantageous and break sharp, you’ll get your opportunity, get your chance. I absolutely see myself scoring 10 or added goals — that’s my ambition this year — but it’s additionally activity to be nice activity into this year area I’m aloof activity to try to do whatever it takes to ability the abandoned numbers that absolutely matter: credibility in the win column.”
It’s the best Wondo of Wondo declarations, and his teammates apperceive such a atoning exoteric hides an abutting affection that drives him to win at all costs. They apperceive that he’s activity to accept a big appulse on San Jose’s affairs this season, and there’s accord in the band that Wondolowski will not disappoint.
“Oh, Wondo’s our captain, and he will consistently be,” adept assistant Shea Salinas said. “He’s a beast, as usual, and I apprehend him to ten goals or more.”
Wondolowski accomplished 2019 as the top calm scorer in MLS with 15 goals, and his career mark of 159 is abiding to abound during his swan song campaign. If he stays alike accidentally abutting to that clip this season, the allowances will be acquainted on and off the field.
“We’ve all apparent what he can do to aftermath goals,” Lima said, “and that’s what we are aggravating to do, account added goals. And to accept the best to anytime do it in this league, it is article special. To accept the adolescent guys get to see it and the administration that he brings to the field, yeah, it is invaluable.”
Leaving an impression
It’s difficult for abounding to accept that this will be Wondolowski’s aftermost season. About every chat with the media begins with a catechism gluttonous such confirmation. On the training field, he is consistently affecting teammates to put in that added bit of effort. And alike aback his aperture is shut, he’s arch by example.
Wondolowski isn’t assured the aforementioned analysis about MLS that added big stars like DeMarcus Beasley, Nick Rimando, and Tim Howard accustomed in their 2019 adieu season. He knows that best of the country bethink him as the guy who couldn’t account adjoin Belgium in the 2014 Apple Cup knockout round, abstinent the USA an doubtful atom in the quarterfinals adjoin Argentina. That ballsy absence could accept destroyed any added player’s confidence, but not Wondolowski’s, and his drive to move forward, to apprentice from the experience, continues to ammunition his motivation.
“The adulation for the bold never wavered,” Wondolowski said. “There was no agnosticism about that. It was talking to my wife, my family, and additionally the team, to see if they capital me aback and if I fit in the plans. It was actual abating to allocution with the advanced appointment and they absolutely said they capital me back. I adulation advancing to convenance and I adulation preseasons, as crazy as that sounds. I assumption I am a crammer for punishment, but I do adore it here.”
There aren’t too abounding players in MLS, let abandoned apple soccer, that can accomplish allusive contributions to their teams into their backward 30’s. Time will consistently win out in the end. But Wondolowski promises to accord it his all, and his teammates acceptable the commitment.
“Yeah, he’s not activity to comedy forever,” Lima said, “but it’s absolutely sad and we don’t appetite to see him go, but we’re activity to get every aftermost bit of him we can get.”
Lima had the affluence to convenance adjoin Wondolowski connected afore he angry able in 2017. The Castro Valley kid spent time with the Quakes Academy afore matriculating at Cal. He was a fan of Wondo connected afore he was his teammate, and he’s connected to apprentice from the Earthquakes abundant the absolute time.
“It’s affectionate of adamantine to explain because I grew up and had those animosity as a little kid watching him and accepting to see what he did aback I catholic with the aboriginal aggregation in aerial school,” Lima said, “So yeah, I still watch him, what he does, and booty little pieces of his bold and that mentality that got him to area he is, and with the civic aggregation success too, and apparatus that into what I do and canyon that on to added guys, abnormally adolescent assiduously that appear in. He’s our captain and consistently will be.”
The absolute impressions additionally extend to the apprenticeship staff, led by the dogged Matias Almeyda, who were afflicted by Wondolowski’s appulse in the club from the aboriginal canicule they accustomed in backward 2018. The Argentine drillmaster is abnormally admiring to see how seamlessly Wondolowski integrates the youngest players into the squad, acquaintance signings like 16-year-old Cade Cowell, who projects as a barbarian of a goalscorer as he added develops his game.
“It will be a amusement to drillmaster him and all his teammates,” Almeyda said. “I anticipate he can add not abandoned on the acreage but off the acreage with all the acquaintance he has and the youngsters that we have. In the aforementioned position we accept Chris and we accept Cade, one is the oldest amateur and the added is the youngest. If he can address aggregate that he’s abstruse throughout his career, it will be a actual nice mark that he can leave for a adolescent player.”
Almeyda charcoal adept aback discussing the role Wondolowski will accept in his aftermost season, abnormally with Danny Hoesen advantageous and accessible to acknowledgment to the ambition scoring anatomy he showed in 2018 aback he advance the team. The drillmaster doesn’t plan to change his access to man administration either, admitting the captain’s pedigree, authoritative it bright Wondo will accept to acquire a abode in the starting eleven aloof like anybody else.
“Chris will attempt for his atom like all his teammates, you apperceive how I backpack myself,” Almeyda said. “There will be a acceptable antagonism in that atom because there’s four players, and the one that array the best will defended that spot. Whoever array the best will account San Jose. The important affair is that we accept a nice accumulation and aback they are calm they accept a nice competition. And that’s what I try to acquaintance in football.”
Starting forward, super-sub off the bench, baptize boy in the abstruse area: Wondolowski doesn’t apperceive absolutely what 2020 has in store, but he’s attractive advanced to the challenge.
Looking to his legacy
MLS Cup Final is appointed for Nov. 7, and anybody in San Jose will achievement it will be hosted at Earthquakes Stadium. Wondolowski badly wants to lift the cup, admitting he’s not too accurate apropos area it happens. Alike a adventitious to butt the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this abatement would be a dream appear true.
But in archetypal Wondo fashion, he’s additionally befitting his focus on the actuality and now. The eyes of acceptable a bays is a accurate motivation, but it takes added than decision to accomplish the aforementioned in reality. Anytime the accurate — Wondolowski is an ardent golfer in his additional time — he admits to canonizing every cogent moment of his career. The misses advance him to alternation alike harder so that he can adore added of the makes. He doesn’t apprehend that attitude to anytime go away, alike afterwards he hangs up his cleats.
“I will apparently consistently battle with that and consistently anticipate I can be on the field,” Wondolowski said. “I’ll apparently be 80 years old with a walker, cerebration ‘I could accept accomplished that. I could still be out there running. I ambition I was still active the beep analysis appropriate now.’ It’s added of those what-ifs and missing time with the guys and that is what I’ll apparently absence the most.”
He appreciates the action that led to him signing a final one-year arrangement with the Earthquakes, abnormally accustomed the constancy of his affiliation with the club, and he was admiring aback accepted administrator Jesse Fioranelli accustomed the means the alignment wants to see Wondolowski break complex alike afterwards his arena canicule are done.
“Yeah, that was one of the air-conditioned things about actuality able to appear up with this contract,” Wondolowski said. “It was article that we affectionate of back-ended, with one of those roles we talked about actuality a scout, abnormally at the academy level, at the adolescence and the MLS level. It’s article that I acquisition actual absorbing and accept kept a agog eye on, and I feel I can be a aptitude that can advice the Earthquakes. It will be actual arduous but additionally actual fun, and I am attractive advanced to that as well.”
Wondolowski absolutely bleeds atramentous and blue, and in a now-legendary about-face of contest from aftermost season, he accepted his bequest at Earthquakes Stadium may actual able-bodied accommodate a role in the stands. While there’s no accuracy to the rumor that he will booty over as capo of the San Jose Ultras aloft retirement, his audience aftermost September as he served the abandoned red-card abeyance of his MLS career showed he was absolutely capable.
“I am not abiding about that yet,” Wondolowski laughed.
He looks advanced to adulatory with fans, demography in a bold with his adolescent daughters, conceivably adequate a cooler at the LOBINA, but abandoned afterwards the accepted attack is completed. He is the Earthquakes abiding captain, a role he embraces, and for now his focus is on his teammates. His bequest is still a assignment in progress, but it is one that Wondo hopes will accept a abiding appulse in San Jose.
“I consistently appetite to be remembered as the guy that played the appropriate way,” Wondolowski said. “Was aggressive but addition you capital to be a assistant with, and I achievement to canyon forth some of those acquaint and things that I’ve admired and abstruse forth the way.”
See the aboriginal adventure on Pro Soccer USA
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