All strikers have their dry spells, their crises of confidence, when the goals won’t come. Over in Europe we saw Robin van Persie struggle through the wilderness for almost half a season, we see Mario Balotelli still failing to find the net for Liverpool, and Fernando Torres had 3 seasons of duff performances following his wonder goal against Germany to win the 2008 European Championship for Spain. Even Clint Dempsey coming back to MLS from EPL has failed to put the bulge in the old onion bag on any kind of regular basis.
But, wait, come to think there is one guy who never seems to let self-doubt creep into his game and throw his performance off: San Jose and USMNT striker Chris Wondolowski. He came back from the 2014 Brazil World Cup’s disappointments to rejoin a San Jose team in crisis and still put the ball in the net 13 times in the course of the worst season the club has ever suffered.
Chris Wondolowski’s USMNT career is kind of mirrored in the way he plays the game. He’s that guy that has an uncanny ability to show up in the right place at the right time. He ghosts out of nowhere and the next thing you know the ball’s in the back of the net. His passion for the team on the field is so fierce you sometimes think if the floodlights failed at a night game he could light up the whole pitch on his own; intense is a word that perfectly describes Wondo, both on and off the field.
It’s clear USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsman recognizes this intensity and goal scoring ability out of nowhere as major assets for the team. Klinsmann, like any coach worth his salt, is not going to pick players for sentimental reasons or because they give the team a warm fuzzy feeling of having familiar faces in the line-up (see Donovan, Landon) Definitely German in his approach, you either have value in Klinsmann’s eyes as a player or you don’t.
Wondolowski, 31, has nine goals in 25 caps with the U.S. He picked up an assist in his last match for the U.S., heading a pass to Mix Diskerud for a goal against the Republic of Ireland on Nov. 18. He earned two caps during the 2014 World Cup, entering as a substitute against Portugal at Arena Amazonia in Manaus on June 22 and against Belgium in the Round of 16 at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador on July 1. Prior to the World Cup, Wondolowski had nine goals in his last 10 games dating back to his first national team tally against Guatemala on July 6, 2013. Wondo scored both of the Americans' goals in a 2-0 win against South Korea at the StubHub Center on Feb. 1 and the second in a 2-2 draw against Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 2. In the summer of 2013, Wondolowski took home a share of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Boot after tying USA teammate Landon Donovan and Panama's Gabriel Torres with five goals during the month-long tournament.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (4): Alex Bono (unattached), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Jon Kempin (Sporting Kansas City), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United),
Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (out of contract), Dennis Flores (Club Leon),
Luis Guil (Real Salt Lake), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Marc Pelosi (Liverpool FC), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (6): Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julio Morales (Tepic),
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)