Two-goal hero Wondolowski earns plaudits from USMNT teammates

WondolowskiSK (ISIPhotos.com)

 Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By MARC SERBER

CARSON, Calif.– Chris Wondolowski not only started 2014 off in style, but continued to build a strong case for one of the 23  tickets to Brazil, despite the many options up front that the U.S. Men’s National Team has at its disposal.

A poacher’s goal after just four minutes, and a quick diagonal run into the box followed by a smart finish on the hour mark, had both Wondolowski’s teammates and Jurgen Klinsmann singing his praises.

“Seeing Wondo (Wondolowski) starting the year 2014 with two goals is just awesome for him.” Klinsmann said with a big smile. “Wondo is a wonderful example that if you are committed, if you are hungry, if you give everything you have over a long period of time, sooner or later, you get rewarded for it.

“It’s a reward for his commitment, for his attitude, for his character. It’s cool.”

Center-back Clarence Goodson, Wondolowski’s teammate for both club and country also touched on the striker’s work ethic, saying he is one of the first guys to training and almost always one of the last to leave.

“Most guys that get to that level say ‘OK, I’ve made it, I don’t have to work that hard.’ He’s a great example for all the young guys on the team coming up,” Goodson said.

 

“That’s just Wondo being Wondo,’ said U.S. midfielder Graham Zusi. “Just being in the right place at the right time, but you know what? You’ve got to finish it as well and he did that. Two great finishes from him. He’s a goal scorer, what else can I say?”

This entry was posted in U.S. Men's National Team, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Two-goal hero Wondolowski earns plaudits from USMNT teammates

  1. Wondolowski.Facts says:

    When he is not scoring goals, Wondolowski trains ferrets for a secretive international ring of diamond thieves.

  2. Emay264 says:

    Watching the MLS 36 episode with him really made me appreciate the guy. He’s goofy, down to earth, and driven. Even as a long shot for he World Cup roster, his attitude is very beneficial in camps as an example for younger guys.

    Also, I’m excited to see Yedlin, Gil, and the younger guys get more integrated. 2018 is going to be a major tourney for us.

    • Landy Cakes says:

      What about Mike Magee?

      It seems like Wondo only scores against poor competition.

      How many strikers are we taking? 4? EJ, AJ, Jozy and ______ ?

    • WK says:

      Why do you list EJ first? Except Jozy (because no one has else the same physical capabilities and willingness to use them), all of the other are selected by who’s in form at the right time. EJ came on against SK and just jogged around, not the kind of effort Klinsi is looking for I think.

  3. Steve-0 says:

    He’s our Inzaghi

  4. turgid jacobian says:

    “plaudit” is one of my favorite words

  5. Coke says:

    Heroes save lives.

  6. solles says:

    He’s not fast or particularly athletic, but he’s a great finisher and a perfect poacher type forward. Personally I hope he goes to Brazil as I think the USA could use his talents.

  7. zeusbrowne says:

    After the Gold Cup I agreed with the majority that it seemed Wondo was great against inferior competition but couldn’t get it done on the next level. While this game doesn’t put that to rest I’ve decided that I wouldn’t be too upset if he took a ticket for the plane. Korea was suspect at the center of their defense and it seems to me this is what Wondo thrives on.

    I don’t watch him play too often but I thought yesterday that he contributed a lot to the offense beyond just the goals.

    I’m curious how others who watch him more think he would perform in the circumstances Jozy has found himself in? Would he suffer the same fate or would he be better suited for dining on scraps than Jozy has been?

    • Gary Page says:

      Neither Sunderland nor any other EPL team would want him and if he did find himself someplace like that, he wouldn’t start. If he had been scoring like that 10 years ago, well, maybe he would have gotten interest, but even that is doubtful. Strikers who don’t find success until after 25 in MLS don’t get any interest in Europe; they look for young, athletic players who shine in youth international competitions or in youth systems for major clubs. For those who cite Donovan, he had already gone to Germany when he was young and his time in Everton was a reflection of his World Cup success.

    • Jake says:

      So… suspect like Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Those would be good for Wondo, who thrives on suspect defenses.

      • zeusbrowne says:

        Ummm, yes, exactly.

        I wouldn’t expect much from Wondo against these opponents. My real question is with a run of games would he show something we haven’t seen at the nats level. It’s just that I’m not sure I expect anything more from Boyd, EJ, or Agudelo.

    • GW says:

      zeusbrowne,

      If Di Canio had brought in Wondo and Jozy together that would have made more sense than what actually happened.

      Jozy thrives when placed in a structured offense such as they had in place at AZ. When he got there they taught him everything he needed to know and what to do and then set him loose. When Jozy got to Sunderland there was no “offensive scheme” and most of the first 18 players, it seems, had never played together before. In comparison to AZ they were a Sunday in the park pick up team. I also get the impression Di Canio was something of a wack job who was unable to get the team to play together.

      Wondo conceivably might have worked out better with Fletcher ( based on Fletcher’s resemblance to Allan Gordon) but Fletcher was out hurt a lot. I can’t see Wondo thriving alone in that chaos a whole lot better than Jozy.

      When Poyet came in he figured out a way of playing that would work for all those guys and then got them to buy into it. If they work this new guy Scocco in, from what I have read, he could conceivably partner well with Jozy in a way that I think Wondo would have.

      Most posters on SBI label Wondo as a poacher. It is a neutral or even a positive term but on SBI the term has a negative connotation as in “he does nothing but score goals”. I get the impression people here think the “do nothing” aspect devalues the goals.

      Besides the fact that the whole point of everything a manager does is to score at least one more goal than the other guy and you can’t do that without scoring a goal, this “do nothing ” criticism of Wondo is a baseless canard.

      There is a term I rarely, if ever, see on SBI and that is the ability to “read” a game. It is not unlike what a QB does when he drops back and has a second or two to read the defense and figure out what to do.

      Probably because he has spent years working on it, Wondo seems to be able to read the game really well. This allows him to eventually be in a position for the simple tap in. I notice he took a while to get into a scoring groove for the US which is consistent with the idea that it took him some time to transition his “reading” ability from MLS to the international level.

      When they talk about “the speed being different at the international level” what most people really mean is “speed of thought”. Or rather speed of instinct since if stop to think about what to do you are already too late.

      A guy like Xavi, for example , doesn’t really think “ I have to pass this ball to the left wing”. He has so much experience and reads the game so well that as the game goes along, his instinct has him a few moves ahead and his body reacts accordingly.

      Wondo seems to spend a lot of his time making runs here and there and seeing what happens. I’m not a good enough writer to describe how this works but there is a whole science to setting up defenders. Wondo’s runs are designed to pull defenders away from certain spots and leave openings for either Wondo or his teammates.

      I remember John Terry, after an MLS All Star game, talking about how Wondo’s runs were a “nightmare “for defenders. Terry is an unpleasant human being who often has bad haircuts but he also may be the best English defender of his generation. Those comments coming from him are high praise.

      So even if Wondo does not score his runs or “movement” as the Brits call it, provide opportunities for his team mates to do some damage.

      The other concern with Wondo is that he has not proven he can score at a higher level than CONCACAF.

      Well, that statement could apply to AJ and Boyd, two players everyone always puts ahead of Wondo in the pecking order.

      Everyone is so sure those two will play better than Wondo at a higher level based on what? Because Boyd has great tats, is a great guy and loves America? Because AJ has taken over from Stu as the young blond god of American soccer?

      I’m sure both will do fine and are great additions to the mix but at this point, a lot of the hype about them is because they are personally more appealing and charismatic to the fans than the rather boring Wondo.

      I don’t think Wondo goes to Brazil because I think the forwards will be Jozy, EJ, Landon and Clint but it is early yet. If Wondo gets called in for the Ukraine game that will tell you something.

      • zeusbrowne says:

        Great analysis. I agree on almost all points.

        Wondo makes sense to me on the plane because if given a start I think the odds of him scoring are higher than Boyd, EJ or Agudelo. I think your point that it may take a bit of exposure for Wondo’ to sync his “read” of the game to the new, higher, level is a good one. It offers some suggestion that given a run of games he might suddenly lock in and start scoring. Using his “movement” to torment a whole new class of defenders.

        As far as disagreeing with you, I think you have to include Mixx in any discussion of “blond gods” (he’s not really blond but I metaphorically he fits the fair haired boy” category pretty well). I think you’d agree that both show a lot of promise, and may well do good things in this Cup, but neither is yet a finished product.

        • GW says:

          I love MIxx but I keep thinking that he will, in a few years, look like Dimitar Berbatov.

          Hair care has advanced greatly, see Rooney, Wayne, but when that happens I wonder if the fans’ view of him will alter drastically.

          Stu and AJ’s hair on the other hand look more likely to hold up.

          By the way, should Stu become a medical marvel and miraculously recover and be fit in time, he is on that plane to Sao Paulo and not because of his hair. Which would likely knock Mix or Benny out of the picture.

      • AJ gets picked up as a favorite because he’s doing almost exactl what our best striker this time a year ago was doing at this time a year ago. He’s also one of very few American players who can create their own chances at this level. He’s also 23 and tracks to be on the 2018 and 2022 squads.

        Boyd is picked up as a favorite, much less than Johannsson because he is one of the best American soccer players on the receiving end of set pieces. He’s a big body and there’s always a place for a big body in any sport. He’s also 22 and again tracks as a potential member of two more world cup squads.

        Wondo has a very solid set of skills that he has honed over his career. He’s a smart player who makes great runs, but he’s not really starting quality and he doesn’t specialize enough to tie down a bench position. Jozy is the starter. EJ and Boyd are big physical presences and AJ is a creative striker. Wondo is a poacher, which is great if he can get on the end of chances, but poachers aren’t going to change the tone of a game unless they score. Wondo also doesnt score goals that other strikers wouldn’t have picked up.

        Most importantly though he’s 31. He’s the same age as Landon and, while he doesn’t have the miles on his legs that Landon does, he’s not going to be playing in 2018 and he’s more likely to be entirely forgotten by 2022 than fighting for a world cup roster.

        • …and I wrote a book. Sorry ’bout that

          • GW says:

            Mr. Hooligan,

            Great points, if you are talking about 2018.

            When it comes to the senior team, like JK, I care about 2014 not 2018. JK has a contract extension but if they suck in Brazil and embarrass themselves don’t think for a second he can’t be fired and join Donovan and Wondo in USMNT exile.

            AJ is indeed replicating Jozy’s Holland achievements, which almost everyone on SBI belittled.

            The difference is Jozy was a proven international scorer before Holland. He has 66 caps, 21 goals and has played in a World Cup. AJ has 6 caps and one goal against Panama.

            AJ looks good and has a lot of potential but then so did Jozy before he went to Sunderland. AJ would face a similar step up in competition if he plays in Brazil; actually it will be greater. The US will need a result from all three group games in Brazil. Much more pressure than Jozy’s first three league games for Sunderland.

            Anyone who thinks Jozy does not have a huge edge in terms of experience over AJ is delusional.

            Boyd plays well in his league which is relatively weak and lately does nothing in a USMNT shirt. Why should this change if he is called on in Brazil?

            • broadsthooligans says:

              Oh I’m hardly arguing that AJ belongs over Jozy. Jozy’s the clear starter primarily for his previous international success. Of course Jozy hasn’t done it at the World Cup level either. International goal-scoring experience isn’t really something that we’re loaded up with. The only players on this team to have scored in a World Cup are Landon, Clint and Michael. Jozy’s high water mark with club is only a hair above AJ’s, which makes many people believe that AJ may be on par with Jozy.

              I’m definitely not arguing that Boyd is close to beating out Jozy or even AJ. Boyd’s at best a bench player for this team. I don’t see the fourth striker (not including Dempsey and Donovan) playing in the World Cup, but Boyd could be useful in situations where we need a physical player. Wondo doesn’t fit particularly well as a situational player. I wouldn’t neccesarily argue that Boyd is better than Wondo, just that he’s more likely to play a useful role off the bench. And that he’s younger. If I have to see a few minutes given to an end of the bench striker, I’d rather they be useful experience for a young player.

              Also “Boyd plays well in his league which is relatively weak and lately does nothing in a USMNT shirt. Why should this change if he is called on in Brazil?” Wondo also plays well in a relatively weak league and, yes, Wondo scored two goals against South Korea and Boyd hasn’t scored yet. Boyd looked bad against Germany, but he’s looked good before. Wondo looked bad throughout the Gold Cup, although he’s also looked good before. They really have about similar records of international success. Wondo’s hot and deserves another look. It’s definitely up in the air who goes though.

  8. Good Jeremy says:

    I wouldn’t mind having him in Brasil. He’s not good enough to start, but he is a great poacher and I like the idea of him coming on late in a game when we desperately need a goal. He’s as good as anyone else we have inside the box

  9. Cairo says:

    When will folks realize that being in the right place and finishing chances are skills equal or better than being able to run fast or jump high or bench press a lot. Behind Jozy? I guess so. Dempsey? For sure, if we count him a striker. Beyond that, i don’t think anyone is clearly better than him. That includes Bacon, Herc, EJ, and certainly Boyd.

    • biff says:

      +1, Cairo. Contrary to popular belief, Herc is not doing well at Tijuana so far, seems unable to bounce back to pre-injury form. And no question in my mind that at the current time Wondow is a better late game option when a goal is mandatory than Eddie and Boyd.

      Bacon is still a big question mark for me. If he were as good as some USMNT fans want to believe, he would not be playing at AZ in Holland but in a better league. Before the fanboys start screaming, I am not saying Bacon is not good. He obviously has nice skills and can score in the Dutch league. All I am saying that has not yet proved his international credentials. In other words, whether he has the right stuff for the international game. I honestly think Mike Magee in top form like he was during MLS 2013 is better than Bacon and if I had to choose betwen the two I would go for Mike, even with his weak stomach. I hope Magee gets called for Ukraine.

      • Thebumswillalwayslose says:

        Magee better than AJ? This should stir the pot nicely.
        ** runs and gets popcorn **

        • biff says:

          Not trying to stir anything up, just stating the truth. Bacon, using JK’s wording, ain’t done stuff yet in a US shirt and it’s still an open question of whether or not he has the right stuff for the international game and whether he can gel with the USMNT. Granted, Magee also is an unknown quantity on the international level. But it is ridiculous for you, with all due respect, Thebumswillalwayslose, to insinuate that Bacon is much better than Magee. What are you basing that on? Because Bacon can score goals in the Dutch League. Hell, Beckerman would probably score a dozen goals in Holland.

          Look, Magee scores a lot of goals in MLS, not to mention being named MVP, and no doubt would be scoring if he played in Holland. He’s highly experienced and right now, if I had to choose one or the other, I would press the button for Magee. I would change my mind real fast if Magee gets a chance against Ukraine and flops or if Bacon impresses.

          • Thebumswillalwayslose says:

            Deep breaths my man, deep breaths. I’m not sure it’s all that ridiculous to insinuate that a player who is considered a lock for Brazil by almost everyone with an opinion on such things is better than a guy very clearly on the outside looking in, but I’ve been wrong before.

            Saying AJ is a better player than Magee is no knock on Mike. I have huge respect for Magee and actually hope they both make the squad, but for argument’s sake I’ll explain why I think so. AJ has a calmness about him on the field, great touch on the ball and has a knack for scoring goals that belie his 23 years. His game has also escalated with each step he’s taken thus far. He played well in Iceland, then moved to Denmark. He played well in Denmark, then moved to Holland. He’s played well in Holland and used that to earn a spot with the US team, where he’s looked very comfortable (at least in my opinion) in his time there. He has the skills (touch, vision, goal scoring knack) and he’s shown thus far that those skills translate as he continues to improve the level at which he plays. He has very quickly and very clearly fit right in with the full national team.

            Magee had an incredible 2013, there’s no doubt about that, and he has a knack for showing up in big games. That said, we’ve never seen him against anything other than MLS competition or the occasional CONCACAF Champions League game. Maybe he could step right in and contribute to the National Team, and maybe he could be a better player than AJ. But for me, based on the evidence we have to go on right now, I’ll take AJ every time and twice on Sunday.

            But we can agree to disagree on that. Cheers.

          • Bobb says:

            The Dutch league is far superior to MLS, and I say this as an MLS fan. Look at the players that have come out of both leagues and what they’ve done elsewhere.

            Magee doesn’t have the ball control, quickness, speed, athleticism, or size of AJ. He is a typical MLS level guy, there should be far more concern regarding his ability to step up on the international level than for AJ. AJ has looked good in every game he’s played for the US.

      • Landy Cakes says:

        I’d like to see Magee too but in place of Wondo or EJ not in place of AJ. I wish Jozy had stayed at Alkamar its more about the habit of scoring than the quality of the competition. This would apply to Wondo too if he hadn’t disappeared in the second half of the Gold Cup. Also, EJ and Jozy played well together against Bosnia. So I’d think Wondo is the odd man out, but I dodn’t know why Magee didn’t any PT in this game.

  10. chris_thebassplayer says:

    I watch Wondo play all the time. He plays very smart and puts himself in good spots. A lot of posters think it’s luck when he scores, but he reads the game well. He compensates for his lack of pace with his smarts, anticipation and work ethic. I thought he played well. Every single Korean player has at least a step or more on Wondo, but he was still able to ghost into some great positions to make some very nice plays. He plays well with LD because they both read the game at the same high level. It’s a huge benefit for his chances that he is on the same page as LD.

    Regarding the selection for the forwards, I think Jozy, AJ and Boyd will be on the plane. I think Boyd gets the nod, because he’s mostly likely to fill the physical point forward role if something happens to Jozy. I think Agudelo, Wondo and EJ are fighting for the 4th forward spot. A lot fans think EJ is a lock to go due to his speed and potential to steal a header but I’m not so sure.. His combo play is poor and he doesn’t read the game well enough to get the most out of his speed. He slows everything down to a snails pace. I think he would be neutralized easily at the WC level. Maybe Agudelo lights it up in Holland and makes the decision easy for JK. Should be interesting…Wondo seems to be incrementally improving…EJ continues to play like he’s on another page.

  11. Curtis says:

    Lot of good points, Chris — some tough decisions ahead. I think Jozy and Bacon are locks, but after that it gets a bit murky. Klinsi seems to like Boyd, and although he has shown very little for the USMNT, he does provide size and has a good scoring record in Austria. I think Gomez is out, and it would take quite a run by Agudelo to get him back in the picture in time for WC consideration. (He is off to a good start!) Really agree with your points about Wondo reading the game well, and making the right runs into space for LD and others. Agree with others that his physical limitations might well be exposed against Ghana and others, but would likely rather take his effort and grit in the last 15 minutes over EJ’s aimless wandering. Also feel like Wondo is probably very good for the locker room — and EJ not so much — but that is pure conjecture on my part.

  12. Aero says:

    Everyone used to complain that Wondo couldn’t score for the USMNT- every time his name came up. Now that he has scored 8 goals in his last 9 appearances, only 4 of them starts, the complaint is that he can’t score against the right teams. That’s an improvement.

    I would like to see him on the Brazil roster.