At the start of the 2010 Major League Soccer season, Chris Wondolowski was an unknown player who was about to start his first full season for his hometown team. With seven goals going into his sixth season it actually seemed like the Chico State Alumn was fortunate to find himself on an MLS roster. Last Saturday on a rain-soaked pitch in San Jose “Wondo” became the highest scorer in league history with a masterful four-goal performance that was like a highlight reel of his career in 90 minutes.
How the high school track star went from turning down offers from schools like UCLA to the best goal scorer in Major League Soccer will be written about for years to come, but I would take a moment to share my thoughts on this historic achievement.
No one player has personified what it is to be a San Jose Earthquake like Chris Wondolowski. People around the country may wonder what is the identity of this organization after all this team goes through managers and strategies like McDonald’s goes through potatoes, but inside all that chaos, there is one constant. One loud, aggressive, gum-chewing, goal-scoring machine known to his beloved supporters as “Wondo.” Throughout the years the Quakes have become that team you don’t look forward to going up against. Their punishing style matched perfectly with their black-and-blue color scheme, and the lead punisher at the top was always Wondolowski.
That 2010 season started an improbable run that catapulted Wondo into MLS royalty. That season he earned his first significant honors taking home the MLS Golden Boot award after netting 18 goals that season. Two seasons later he would destroy the MLS single-season goal scoring record of 20 set by Luciano Emilio in 2007 by scoring 27 goals and leading the Quakes to their second Supporters’ Shield in team history.
His accomplishments on the pitch are well known, but another advantage of being able to follow the team so closely is being able to see what an equally great person Wondo is in the community. From meet-and-greets to behinds the scenes videos to whatever he is asked of doing Wondo is always there with the same enthusiasm he has for soccer. Star soccer players are known for their inflated egos but watching Wondolowski interact with the fans you would never guess that he is one of the most decorated players in league history. He is always the last player to leave the pitch after he has made sure that everyone got the autographs and selfies with their hero, and like a true hero when he puts his uniform away, he blends in with the regular population.
I really can’t think of a more deserving individual who has worked so hard for his loyal hometown supporters and can now call himself the greatest scorer in MLS history. Congratulations Wondo.