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Chris Wondolowski signs new contract with the San Jose Earthquakes; is Simon Dawkins next?

Chris Wondolowski's services with the San Jose Earthquakes have been secured for the 2012 MLS season, will Simon Dawkins' be too?
Chris Wondolowski's services with the San Jose Earthquakes have been secured for the 2012 MLS season, will Simon Dawkins' be too?

On the one year anniversary of the San Jose Earthquakes signing then reigning MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski to a new three year contract, the team repeated the favor and granted the star forward another new contract. According to Mercury News reporter Elliott Almond, the deal has the potential to keep Wondolowski in San Jose through the 2016 MLS season.

Per the policies of MLS and the team, the specifics of Wondolowski’s new contract were not released, but indications are that the Earthquakes leading scorer over the past two seasons received another bump in annual compensation. A look at the lists of 2010 and 2011 salary figures released by the MLS Players Union shows that the new deal Wondo agreed a year ago today netted him earning a nearly four-fold increase in salary over his previous deal.

On January 27, 2009 — the day before his 27th birthday — Wondolowski signed a new contract that elevated his salary above the league minimum to the modest figure of $48,000 annually. Just over two years later, the Earthquakes forward likely finds himself earning much more than his reported 2011 salary of $175,000 and closing in on the same tax bracket as his fellow members of the 2010 and 2011 MLS Best XI teams. While the specifics of his new contract have not been released, Wondolowski should be justifiably as the top of the Earthquakes players’ salary list.

Of the many accomplishments Wondolowski has achieved over the past two seasons — many of which are outlined elsewhere — one in particular points to the worth of the forward in comparison to other players around the league. As part of the push to more analytically understand the sport of soccer and the effect individual players have on their teams’ success, MLS introduced the Castrol Player Performance Index just in time for the 2011 regular season. And who was the inaugural winner of the Castrol Index award? None other than the San Jose Earthquakes own Chris Wondolowski.

In addition to Wondo, another member of the 2011 Earthquakes was ranked in the top 25 of all MLS players according to the Castrol Index. Finishing at the blackjack position of #21 in the rankings was on-loan Tottenham midfielder Simon Dawkins. And while the contract situation of Wondolowski is secure, the 24-year old Englishman’s status with MLS and the Earthquakes remains unresolved. However, indications are beginning to surface that the two statistical leaders of the last year’s team are close to sharing the Buck Shaw Stadium field for a second successive season.

As posted on the usually irreverent @QuakesRumors Twitter account yesterday, a deal to return Dawkins to San Jose has already been reached according to a source in England.

While at first glance, the message seems to be capitalizing on the buzz surrounding the possible return to MLS of the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, especially given the difficulties he has had in securing playing time with the Spurs first team. Earlier this week, Dawkins was left out of the 18 man match-day roster for an away match at Liverpool in favor of a pair of less heralded Tottenham youngsters. That decision alone was a clear sign that Dawkins was not as close to his dream of playing in the Premier League as his placement on the official Spurs senior roster suggested just last week.

Lending credence to the rumor is that local buzz in and around the local Earthquakes community suggests that an announcement confirming the return of the dynamic midfielder is imminent. Just last Thursday head coach Frank Yallop talked about how a deal for Dawkins could be completed within the week. At a press round-up following training last Tuesday, Yallop reiterated that he was planning for the arrival of Dawkins and outlined how he would employ the midfielder within his revitalized team roster. Team officials have not been able to confirm that Dawkins will return to the Earthquakes, but all signs point to the eventuality that some sort of deal will be agreed.

Would securing Dawkins for a second successive season be the last piece in the intricate puzzle of successfully transforming the Earthquakes roster into a competitive force in an increasingly loaded MLS Western Conference? While questions remain on his durability in regard to the physical demands of MLS, and perhaps some might question whether his heart is in it to come back to the U.S. and leave behind a chance to play for Spurs, the addition of Dawkins to the 2012 San Jose Earthquakes roster would be a very positive move.