MLS: Wondo ready for Chelsea, recalls facing SRU and SSU teams


Chris Wondolowski’s soccer goals continue to grow more lofty.

A dozen years ago, he led his Diablo Valley SC Renegade youth soccer team against the old Santa Rosa United Sharks. Then came a stellar career as a soccer player at a high school football factory otherwise known as De La Salle in Concord. Next was a stint at Chico State, a second-team All-American honor as a junior and a collegiate experience that gained him a spot (41st) in the 2005 Major League Soccer supplemental draft.

“Oh, yes, I remember playing against the Santa Rosa United Sharks. They were really good,” Wondolowski said in a recent interview. “And when I was at Chico we had many, many battles against Sonoma State.”

Today, Major League Soccer’s leading goal-scorer will be on the field in Chester, Pa., when the MLS All-Stars take on Chelsea FC.

“I always just wanted to get a little better with every step just so I could continue playing somewhere,” said Wondolowski, now in his fourth season as a forward with the San Jose Earthquakes.

Backed by Wondolowski’s offense (17 goals, four more than the Red Bulls’ Kenny Cooper), San Jose is leading the Western Conference with a league-best 43 points and a 13-5-4 record.

In his second All-Star appearance, Wondolowski isn’t expecting the MLS to be outclassed by Chelsea.

“Sure, they come into the game with a team that has played together for some time, but we have a lot of talent on our squad. We’ll be competitive,” he said.

Wondolowski played a half in last year’s All-Star game against Manchester United.

“You enjoy being on the field with those guys,” he said. “But, no, once you get out there, there is no intimidation. It’s just soccer.”

When the Earthquakes moved to Houston in 2006, Wondolowski went with them. He came back to the Bay Area in 2009 as the team leader. He tallied three times in 14 appearances in 2009, had 18 goals in 28 games for a franchise record in 2010, scoring in 10 consecutive matches.

The Danville native has made eight appearances on the U.S. men’s national team.

“You never know how many years you are going to get to play,” he said. “As far as the national team, you know when they are going to play and when they are going to invite players. But you just have to wait and see if the phone rings.”

On the prospects of playing in another country, he said, “That gets real complicated with transfer fees from the Earthquakes to somewhere else and then working out my deal. But if someone makes an offer I’ll listen. For now I am happy where I’m at”

For now, Wondolowski will be content to remain in San Jose with his two dogs, one of which is a bulldog named “Gattuso” and his two tattoos (one symbolizes his native American heritage, the other is a Superman logo with a W in the middle) And this time the Cup he will be aiming for will not be the Surf Cup, but the first-ever MLS Cup for the Quakes.


There are three other Quakes on the MLS Star roster:

Ramiro Corrales who is the only remaining active player who played during the MLS’s inaugural 1996 season … Justin Morrow, a Notre Dame product who has played every minute of every Quakes’ game this season … San Diego State product and Earthquake Steven Beitashour is also on the roster. So far this season he has started every San Jose game and is second on the team with six assists … Beitashour is eligible to represent the U.S. and Iran at the international level. Iran contacted him in May regarding a call-up to that country’s senior team but he declined the invitation … He was born and raised in San Jose.

Bill Pinella is The Press Democrat’s former Assistant Sports Editor.