With the realistic possibility that he’ll set the MLS record for most career goals scored at some point this season, it is safe to say that 2018 will the “Year of Chris Wondolowski.” After all, the San Jose Earthquakes forward is tied for number two on the all-time scoring list, 11 behind record holder Landon Donovan, and he’s scored in double digits for eight straight seasons. By season’s end, few are betting against seeing Wondolowski hit the back of the net with goal #146 of his amazing career.
And so it came as no surprise on Friday when Earthquakes head coach Mikael Stahre confirmed what was the worst kept secret in San Jose soccer: Chris Wondolowski will be the team’s captain entering the 2018 MLS season.
“Wondo is the captain of the team, and will be for the whole season whenever he’s on the field,” said Stahre, “and, hopefully, he will be captain for many more seasons.”
Wondolowski has worn the armband for the Quakes since 2014, taking over the captaincy when long-time teammate Ramiro Corrales retired. The quiet legend, known simply as “Rams,” held the honor for five seasons (2009-2013), the same number of years as the first captain in the club’s MLS era, John Doyle (1996-2000). With the honor bestowed on him again this season, Wondolowski joins the pair of Earthquakes Hall of Fame members as the team’s longest serving captains.
Even as the Quakes have gotten younger — two of their off-seasons signings are only 16 years old! — Wondolowski, 35 years old, has stood the test of time to be a leader on and off the field. He started the preseason by finishing third in the grueling physical endurance drill known as the beep test. Stahre has said multiple times that Wondo’s fitness level defies his age. It’s not wonder that the coach backs him to continue his captaincy for many seasons to come.
“I am so happy to work with this caliber of player,” said Stahre. “He might be a little bit older, but he’s super fit, super professional, and he’s good in every single situation. For me, it’s an honor to work with a guy like him. I like him a lot and I am super impressed.”
Wondolowski finished last season with career highs in appearances and minutes played, topping the numbers from his MVP winning 2012 campaign. His 13 goals on 79 shots were on par with his last decade of work, and he even posted a career best 8 assists as he continues to find ways to stay involved in the Quakes offense when surrounded by talented teammates. Wondo shows no sign of slowing down.
With the Earthquakes MLS regular season opener a week away, the team hosts Minnesota United on March 3rd at Avaya Stadium, Wondolowski is ready to be the team’s leader once again. He will continue to wear the Bau Daigh Warrior design armband, inspired by the forward’s Native American Kiowa Tribe heritage, on his left sleeve as he continues his pursuit of another MLS Cup playoff berth for his Earthquakes.