2020 was the first season in more than a decade in which Chris Wondolovsky scored fewer than 10 goals. However, I think it’s safe to say the season was a real win for him.
Once again, Wondo started the season as a bench option for Matias Almeyda, the icon announcing this will be his final season as a player, and to some extent, the head coach strives to limit veteran minutes. While it was difficult at first to see Wondo on the bench turning back a few years back, it’s not quite smart to get him to play 90 minutes every time.
However, the San Jose Earthquakes had not found a true future succession plan at the time. In a sense, there is a sense of respect in not wanting to get the legend out the door, but it’s pretty clear that the team tried to bring in players to take on some of the scoring burden, from Danny Hosen, Faco and Andy Rios, among others, and nothing came close to being produced by Wondolowski .
So 2020 began with Wondo as a bench choice again, with MLS historic scorer making a scary sub-option for San Jose, and seeing if Hoesen, Vako, Rios, Carlos Fierro, or anyone else would turn up. Spoiler alert: They don’t in terms of production.
Wondo was a minor through MLS is Back, scoring a hat-trick in Orlando helping Earthquakes reach the quarter-finals. Maybe this plan works?
But then again, no one else was dealing with the slump during the first hour of games. The earthquakes were a shy goal. Then after returning home, San Jose struggled to find any goals or scores, and one of the changes along the way was to bring Wondo back into the squad.
Here’s the stats for Wondo in 2020:
Chris Wondolowski 2020 Earthquake Statistics 2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Help with Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards 2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Help with Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards Regular Season 22 13 1 , 275 7 1 31 19 1 0 MiB Knockouts 2 0 39 1 0 1 1 1 0 Qualifiers 1 1120 1 0 4 2 0 0 Total 25 14 1,434 9 1 36 22 2 0
By his lofty standards, nine goals in 25 matches are the pinnacle of Wondo’s career, but even as Rios advanced and scored five goals in the season to close from distance, Wondolowski’s goal tally was the best in the team again.
Two vintage shows down the stretch showed he still enjoyed it. With San Jose chasing a playoff match, they faced Real Salt Lake in a match in which only one team would exit with a chance to reach beyond the season, and Wondo scored two goals to give the COEX the upper hand.
Then in the playoffs, San Jose definitely led Sporting Kansas City to the brink of a precipice. It was a largely team effort, and it was a high point in Almeida’s career with the club despite the final result, but Wondolowski’s goal of moving the game into overtime was another legendary “never say die” moment in the club’s history.
Altogether, even if he hasn’t scored twice as many goals in the season, 2020 totally showed that Wondo still has a lot of them. He said he’s retiring, but if he still feels he can carry on, the results showed he could still move back and forth between start, subsidiary and production. Earthquakes still depend on its targets.
So it was good news when Wondolovsky brought back another season’s hike over the holidays. He turned 38 last month but has made adjustments to take better care of his body – last season’s feature indicated that he was watching what he ate, which was somewhat noticeable on the field. He’s trying to squeeze every ounce of effort out of his rest of his career, which is great to see.
So far, Earthquakes has yet to find another striker to spell Wondo, although they certainly hope Chofis Lopez will score goals in 2021. But if there isn’t a big leap from the likes of Cade Cowell, if not the club doesn’t sign a proven scorer to be the last. Long-term succession plan, so who knows, perhaps Wondolovsky will lead the line more often in 2021 before he rides into the sunset. You wouldn’t bet on him on that, would you? I certainly wouldn’t.
What is your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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