[BEST OF MLS 2011: Forwards] For a player whose production and determination are both unquestioned, San Jose's Chris Wondolowski always seems to be popping up in a different spot.
His guile, range and mobility are primary reasons for his success, but he’s also played multiple positions for the Earthquakes: either of the two forward spots with a partner, alone up top, or in midfield.
SA's Top 10 Forwards
1. Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
2. Thierry Henry (New York)
3. Fredy Montero (Seattle)
4. Camilo (Vancouver)
5. Juan Pablo Angel (Chivas USA)
6. Fabian Espindola (Real Salt Lake)
7. Kei Kamara (Sporting KC)
8. Omar Bravo (Sporting KC)
9. Marvin Chavez (FC Dallas)
10. Emilio Renteria (Columbus)
For the 2011 edition of these rankings, Wondo’s been classified as a forward, who plays underneath a partner – such as Steven Lenhart or Scott Sealy – if he’s not deployed up front by himself. He tallied 16 goals and tied for the league lead with Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United one season after winning the 2010 Golden Boot with 18 goals. (DeRo is listed among the attacking midfielders in this year’s rankings.)
Thierry Henry occasionally led the line by himself but more often had either Luke Rodgers (included in the striker rankings) or Juan Agudelo as his partner. During the season he had a few uncomplimentary things to say about MLS officials or other aspects of playing in MLS, but still he tallied 14 goals, logged four assists, and left opponents agog at the precision and poise of his prowess in the penalty area. A few of his best passes were squandered.
The lack of a consistent partner plagued Fredy Montero during portions of the season and his solid numbers of 12 goals and nine assists indicated a sharper if not relentless focus on his duties. Camilo’s slick work in the attacking third (12 goals, 3 assists) proved one of bright spots in a rough debut campaign for Vancouver. Angel struggled mightily for the Galaxy, which rolled to the title after sending him down the Home Depot Center corridors to Chivas USA, but seven goals in nine post-trade matches burnished his reputation.
Espindola’s hot-cold persona must be as maddening to RSL head coach Jason Kreis as his stats (10 goals, 3 assists) are rewarding. But he’s a handful. Kamara often played the right wing in SKC’s 4-3-3 and his aggressive yet heady play produced nine goals. His teammate on the left, Omar Bravo, relied more on skill and savvy while matching that goal total.
Nobody on FCD’s roster, and probably in the entire league, could hope to replace an injured David Ferreira, yet Chavez unleashed his own blend of quickness and smarts to score six goals and set up four on a team that lacked a true finisher. Renteria played only 18 games (14 starts) yet finished second on the Crew with eight goals.