SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a surprise move, Chris Wondolowski was dropped from the San Jose Earthquakes starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Houston Dynamo. The team’s captain and Major League Soccer’s active career leader in goals scored will be on the substitutes’ bench for the first time in nearly three years.
Quakes head coach Mikael Stahre promised changes to the lineup and formation this week following his team’s three game winless streak. Wondolowski, who has started the last 56 games for the Earthquakes, has one goal and one assist this season, but the star striker is coming off two sub-par performances.
Wondolowski, 35, holds nearly every club record offensively, and he is only 10 goals behind Landon Donovan on the all-time MLS goal scoring list. In 297 career appearances with both the Dynamo and Earthquakes, the striker has found the back of the net 135 times. He has also contributed 35 assists since his debut back in 2005. Wondolowski is tied with Jaime Moreno for the most goals scored for a single club, with each scoring 131 for the Quakes and D.C. United respectively.
Since establishing himself as a starter for San Jose three games into the 2010 season — a campaign he finished with 18 goals and the MLS Golden Boot award — Wondo has started 240 of the 244 games in which he was available. He has missed 25 games while on international duty with the U.S. men’s national team since earning his first cap in 2011, and he has been held out of the lineup due to injury only once in eight-plus seasons.
Wondolowski has appeared off the bench just four times since the start of the 2010 season, scoring five goals in those appearances. He famously scored a hat-trick against Chivas USA back in 2010 after being subbed in late in the second half. Wondolowski was last used off the bench on April 17, 2015 — almost three years ago to the day — during a 2-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls. He had returned from international duty earlier in the week and was given a rest.
Stahre’s decision to bench a legend such as Wondolowski is bold, but the coach has said throughout his short tenure in charge of the Quakes that he is responsible for getting the best team on the field and securing results. Anibal Godoy will wear the captain’s armband against the Dynamo in Wondo’s stead.
Without a doubt, Wondolowski still has plenty to offer the Earthquakes, but even the most prolific scorer in club history has to play his role according to the coach’s wishes in the team’s quest for success.
San Jose Earthquakes vs Houston Dynamo starting lineup
April 14, 2018
Avaya Stadium, San Jose, CA
Starting Eleven: Andrew Tarbell; Florian Jungwirth, Yeferson Quintana, Francois Affolter, Nick Lima; Fatai Alashe, Anibal Godoy (C), Jackson Yueill; Vako, Danny Hoesen, Magnus Eriksson.
Substitutes’ Bench: Matt Bersano, Jimmy Ockford, Shea Salinas, Chris Wehan, Jahmir Hyka, Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa.