WASHINGTON - Chris Wondolowski has done it all for the San Jose Earthquakes this season, and on Saturday night — thanks to a victory on the road against D.C. United and the Sounders' defeat of the Kansas City Wizards — he led the Earthquakes into the playoffs for the first time since the franchise restarted in 2008.
Wondolowski scored both goals for the Earthquakes in their 2-0 playoff-clinching victory over the United. Although not a constant threat throughout the match, Wondolowski scored in trademarks style.
Both goals came off bounces that fell to the striker, who has displayed an uncanny ability for being in the right place at the right time. His success at providing those timely goals has placed the Earthquakes in the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
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“It’s been our goal from the start, and we know that once we make the playoffs anything can happen," Wondlowski said. "We’re hitting a good stride and we’re really excited right now. It’s not always the prettiest with us, but we always try to go out there and get the job done.”
With his brace, Wondolowski brings his goal total to 14 goals on the season, just one behind the club's single-season record of 15 set by Ronald Cerritos in 1999. The tally is 10 more than the forward’s previous scoring high of four, which he had in 2009 while playing for the Houston Dynamo and the San Jose Earthquakes.
When told how close he was to tying a club record that has stood for more than 10 years, the normally modest forward could not hide his joy.
“Wow, that would be a huge honor because there have been some brilliant strikers like Ronald Cerritos and Brian Ching, just to name a few,” Wondolowski said. “I’m honored to be in that list, and I’m hoping to maybe break it because I’ve been a San Jose fan my whole life growing up in the Bay Area. It would mean a lot to me, and I’m hoping to finish the job.”
Only two goals behind leading goal scorer Edson Buddle, the forward is in the middle of a chase for this year's Golden Boot and potentially the MLS Most Valuable Player award.
San Jose head coach Frank Yallop has been a major proponent of his clutch striker, and in the past several weeks has begun to lobby for a potential MVP candidacy for Wondolowski.
When the forward has scored, the Earthquakes are a healthy 8-1-2.
“I said it before and I’ll say it again, there are some good players in the league, but to go from where Wondolowski has come to be where he is now is outstanding,” said Yallop. “Hopefully he’ll be in there — I know that I’d vote for him.”
The Earthquakes will now play the final three matches of the season with the hope of advancing their playoff standing. This run begins with a match at home against their former incarnation, the Dynamo. If the season ended today, the Earthquakes would open up their playoff campaign against the Columbus Crew.
“To make the playoffs, it’s a huge deal and a huge accomplishment and honor for us,” Wondolowski said. “I’m hoping that we can make a deep run in the playoffs and if the MVP comes along too that would be great, but I’ll take that ring.”