Chris Wondolowski joins rare MLS company with latest scoring feat
Chris Wondolowski joined exclusive company Sunday night, doing something that only two other players in MLS history have been able to accomplish.
With his equalizer against the Philadelphia Union – in what was ultimately a 4-2 loss for Wondolowski's San Jose Earthquakes – the prolific forward tallied his 10th goal of the campaign, marking the fifth consecutive season he has scored in double digits. Only Carlos Ruiz (playing for FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy between 2002 and 2006), and Juan Pablo Angel (playing for the New York Red Bulls, LA Galaxy and Chivas USA from 2007-2011) had managed to pull off that feat in the league's 19 years of existence.
After being an unheralded reserve with the Houston Dynamo, Wondolowski was traded to San Jose in 2009, nearly doubling his previous career total but scoring eight times in 14 games for the Earthquakes. He had scored 11 goals in 39 games up until that point.
The hot streak continued, and Wondolowski took off the following season, netting 18 goals and winning the league's Golden Boot. Wondolowski tied for the most goals in the league in 2011, adding 16 more to his resume before embarking on his greatest season: a record-tying 27-goal campaign in 2012, matching Roy Lassiter's mark for most goals in a single season. Wondolowski had a down year by his own standards in 2013, netting just 11 times, but he did enough to earn a place on the USA's 2014 World Cup roster (and came agonizingly close to putting the USA in the quarterfinals with a close-range miss in the final seconds of regulation against Belgium).
With 89 career goals, the 31-year-old Wondolowski is on pace to become the ninth player in the league's esteemed 100-goal club, one that just added a new member in Colorado Rapids forward Edson Buddle this past week.
Wondolowski, Ruiz and Angel could welcome another member to their esteemed club this season, as Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio is four goals shy of his fifth straight double-digit-goal campaign. He has been out since May 29 with a foot fracture that cost him a place on Costa Rica's World Cup roster, but if he is able to return in time, the mark is within reach.
Wondolowski's achievement is the latest in a season full of them. Landon Donovan, in his last season before retiring, broke a tie with Jeff Cunningham to set the all-time MLS goal mark with his 135th regular-season goal, and he's now carrying that mark at 140. Buddle's second goal of the season brought him to the 100 plateau, which is all the more impressive considering not one has come from the penalty spot.
Seattle Sounders manager Sigi Schmid became the first manager in league history to hit the 200-win mark in regular-season play, while RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando set the new mark for career shutouts at 113. The season has also included the first MLS game with two hat tricks, as New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips and Chicago Fire rookie Harry Shipp each went for three in a wild 5-4 match won by the Fire.
Wright-Phillips could have the final milestone say of the season, too. With 20 goals scored and 10 games remaining, he has his sights set on Wondolowski and Lassiter's single-season record.