MLS has a new all-time scoring leader.
That Chris Wondolowski even had a pro soccer career is amazing enough.
He attended De La Salle High School, better known for its record-breaking football team, and Chico State, an NCAA Division II school that had not produced a player of note since Otey Cannon, the first African-American player to play in the NASL in 1971.
Wondo was drafted with the 41st pick of the 2005 Supplemental Draft, which made him the 89th selection overall. His career started slowly -- two games and five minutes in the old Quakes' last season before their move to Houston and just seven goals in his first five seasons -- but he has hung on long enough that one of the players taken ahead of him in the 2005 draft, Scott Sealy, has a son, Dante, already signed by an MLS team.
U.S. internationals: (2005 MLS Draft)
PICK PLAYER (CAPS)
2nd Brad Guzan (60)
3rd Chad Barrett (1)
4th Ugo Ihemelu (2)
6th Drew Moor (5)
9th Michael Parkhurst (25)
29th Chris Rolfe (10)
89th Chris Wondolowski (35)
93rd Jeff Larentowicz (4)
Over nine straight seasons, Wondo scored 10 or more goals to give him 144 career goals and put him within one of the career record set by Landon Donovan. But then he hit a drought, his longest in a decade.
Entering Saturday's game against the Chicago Fire, Wondolowski had not scored in 13 straight appearances, dating back to the end of the 2018. Under a new coach, Matias Almeyda, his playing time had been been reduced.
But on Saturday, Wondo scored not one goal to tie Donovan's record or two to break it but four goals. Just like Almeyda imagined.
"I can't say because it's going to seem odd to you guys," San Jose's Argentine head coach said after the 4-1 win. "I was speaking to my interpreter and one of the staff, and I said, 'Maybe he'll score four goals today.'"
If the truth be told, the Fire defense -- fifth best in MLS -- made it look easy.
On the first goal in the 21st minute, Chicago's Francisco Calvo pulled away from Wondo, leaving no defender within five yards of him at the six-yard line to redirect Sean Salinas' ball played into the goal area.
On the second goal in the 48th minute, Cristian Espinoza played a high cross into the area that keeper David Ousted should have caught easily. Instead, Ousted dropped the ball in front of him, allowing Wondo to poke it into the goal.
"It's crazy," Wondolowski said of his MLS record-breaking 146th career goal. "I love visualization, I always pictured hitting a 30-yard blast into the upper 90. I didn't really picture the goalkeeper dropping it and tapping it in."
Wondo said he didn't mind at all the long wait to break the record.
“It’s looming just cause it’s there, but to be honest this year has been so much fun," he said after the Quakes' fourth straight home victory that matched its entire win total in 34 games in 2018. "I think that this coaching staff and this locker room have reignited that passion and a love for the game and I’m just enjoying it out there. I’m going out there not to score goals, I’m going out there because it’s fun.”
Photo: Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire