Chris Wondolowski scored his third career hat trick on Saturday evening against Real Salt Lake, and in doing so moved with 7 goals of matching the San Jose Earthquakes career scoring mark set by Ronald Cerritos. Wondolowski has now notched 54 goals — 51 in the past three seasons alone — in 92 appearances for the Earthquakes, and is in striking distance of surpassing Cerritos’ 61 goals sometime later this season.
Putting Wondolowski’s achievements into perspective, he is on pace to break the all-time single season scoring record of 27 goals set by Tampa Bay Mutiny forward Roy Lassiter in the inaugural 1996 MLS season. With 17 goals in 18 appearances so far in 2012 — a stunning 0.95 goals per 90 minutes played — the Earthquakes forward has 14 games left on the schedule to knock Lassiter from the top of the all time leader board.
Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, who was a member of the Mutiny alongside Lassiter from 1996 to 1998, feels Wondolowski has a great chance to catch the former U.S. International and runner-up to teammate Carlos Valderrama for the 1996 MLS MVP award.
"He has a chance," said Yallop following Wondolowski’s hat trick performance. "We have a lot of home games left, which is important for a goal scorer, because you seem to get more chances at home."
San Jose plays 8 of their remaining 14 matches at Buck Shaw Stadium, and faces some fairly porous defenses from the likes of FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy in that time. But with Wondolowski still double digits behind Lassiter’s 1996 total, is it premature to be talking about him setting a new MLS record?
"I’ve got to get 10 more," said Wondolowski, "and that’s a long ways away. Maybe when I’m one or two away, hopefully then I’ve got a couple weeks left for that."
Even if Wondolowski is unable to catch Lassiter this season, with two more goals he will catapult his season scoring record into the top ten MLS marks of all-time. Getting 7 more goals and matching Cerritos for the honor of most prolific Earthquakes scorer in franchise history would be an incredible achievement this season and would likely ensure that the team would move comfortably into the postseason. Still, no player has had his good a chance to reach Lassiter’s level in 10 years, and, after all, records were meant to be broken, right?
"I hope he does it," said Yallop. "That would be nice."
Keep reading to watch highlights from Wondolowski’s hat trick against RSL
For a wonderful breakdown of Wondolowski's wonderful night, check out Will Parchman's ode to the Wondo at No Short Corners.