Individual accolades alone don’t win championships — or Cups.
Chris Wondolowski, the San Jose Earthquakes’ veteran in his eighth year of professional soccer, knows that all too well.
After consecutive stellar seasons in 2010 and 2011 with the Earthquakes, “Wondo’s” quest of seizing Major League Soccer’s premier prize remains unfulfilled.
“I’m OK with getting nothing as long as we get that MLS Cup,” the San Jose forward said. “That’s the main goal. If we can do that, then that’s when I’ll be satisfied.”
But thus far, the 29-year-old Wondolowski, who played prep soccer at De La Salle High School in Concord, hasn’t had to settle for “nothing.”
His 11 goals in the opening 10 games not only make him the league’s top scorer, but have also helped catapult the Earthquakes to the top of the Western Conference.
Winning three of their past four, San Jose is sitting atop the standings with a lofty 7-2-1 record, their best start since the founding of the franchise.
But unaccustomed success can dangerously lead to being drunk on self-congratulation. And that’s something coach Frank Yallop is looking to avoid.
“We’ve not done anything yet,” said Yallop, San Jose’s coach since 2008. “We’ve had a great start to our season. We have a long way to go. But I feel that team in the locker room is relishing each game they play.”
But even Wondolowski’s goal-scoring prowess hasn’t been lost on his coach.
“If we’re creating a lot of chances, he’ll score a lot of goals,” said Yallop, wondering how many his striker will have by season’s end. “But looking at the way we’re playing at the moment and the way he’s finishing ... who knows.”
But it’s teamwork, and not necessarily individual accomplishments, that win games. And teammates like forward Steven Lenhart and keeper Jon Busch are doing their part.
“From our first guy to our 28th guy, everyone is talented and everyone is skilled,” said Wondolowski, who played collegiately at Chico State. “It’s one of the deepest teams I’ve ever been on.”
But on future fields is where the mettle of that depth will be tested, starting with lowly Chivas USA on Sunday in the South Bay. The slow starting Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy will follow before a road showdown with the Eastern Conference leading Sporting Kansas City on May 27.
“We feel that we can get three points against any team,” Wondolowski said. “We just got to play the game, keep the ball rolling and continue to play really well.”
Merely playing the game was once something the Danville native relished as a boy, watching his beloved Clash before the Earthquakes’ moniker took suit.
“I remember going to games at Spartan [Stadium], and wishing to be out there one day,” Wondolowski said. “I finally am. So it’s a dream come true.”
Next Game: Earthquakes vs. Chivas USA
WHEN: Sunday, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara
TV: Comcast SportsNet California
RADIO: 1370 AM, 1590 AM
- 11 Goals by Chris Wondolowski, most in the MLS
- 19 Shots on goal by Wondolowski, tied for most in the MLS
- 2 Assists by Wondolowski
- 7-2-1 Earthquakes’ record