The accolades keep coming for Chris Wondolowski in what has been a charmed season for the San Jose Earthquakes, as earlier today the star forward was named the MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters.
Wondolowski scored twice on Wednesday to lead the Earthquakes back from a two goal deficit to draw level with the Portland Timbers in a 2-2 tie. The late heroics by the team, punctuated with Wondolowski’s goals, extended their unbeaten streak to 16 games at Buck Shaw Stadium. The stoppage time game tying goal was also the eighth goal scored after the 90th minute by the Earthquakes so far in this "Goonies never say die" season.
In an important top of the Western Conference table clash with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, Wondolowski scored the game winner in the Earthquakes 2-1 victory. His 22nd goal of the season, the most in MLS since 2002, was also his 10th game-winning-goal of 2012, a new MLS record. The San Jose win propelled the team to an 11 point lead in the West, and with only 4 games remaining in the regular season, the conference’s top seed in the playoffs seems assuredly in hand.
So far in 2012, Wondolowski has won the Player of the Week award three times — once in May and once in July before today’s award — and MLS Player of the Month honors twice — in both April and June. The commendations by the NASR seem to be setting the course toward a likely Most Valuable Player award for Wondolowski for the 2012 season. Some Earthquakes fans, given that the MLS Cup Final is scheduled for December 1, would settle for seeing the striker take home Player of the Month honors in December.
With 22 goals scored so far in 2012, Wondolowski has opened up an 8 goal lead in the MLS Golden Boot race over second place challengers Kenny Cooper of New York Red Bulls, Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake, and Robbie Keane of LA Galaxy. Only once in the 17-year history of the league has such a large goal difference separated the best from the rest atop the scoring chart — in 2000, Mamadou Diallo scored 26 goals to finish ahead of Ante Razov with 18.
Wondolowski’s astonishing season comes into some perspective in light of his current margin of separation on the goal scoring leaderboard, but it also reaches a whole other level of amazing when compared to the offensive paucity being produced by Chivas USA. While Wondolowski has 22 goals on the season, Chivas USA’s team total is a mere 21 goals. With a month left on the schedule, Wondolowski has the chance to outscore an entire team over the course of a regular season — a feat that is unimaginable in leagues the world over.
If Wondolowski is to keep Chivas at bay in the scoring race, he may need to post similar numbers to those he has presented the past two seasons. In both 2010 and 2011, the Earthquakes striker scored 6 goals over the team’s last 5 games of the regular season. If he can repeat that rate over the last five games of this season — the Seattle match netted him one goal — Wondolowski would finish 2012 with 27 goals. It just so happens that 27 goals is the all-time MLS record, set in the league’s inaugural season of 1996 by Tampa Bay Mutiny forward Roy Lassiter.
"Special" does not begin to describe Wondolowski’s 2012 season. "Historic" is the better definition.
Wondolowski's efforts lead his week to make the MLS Top Three: