CHESTER, Pa. – Benjamin Franklin said it best: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
If the Founding Father of the United States ever watched Major League Soccer, the famous phrase might be amended to include San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski scoring goals.
On Saturday, the Union will put their franchise record 332-minute shutout streak to the test against one of the league’s most potent and prolific strikers. Philadelphia managed to keep both Wondolowski and San Jose scoreless in two matchups last season, a 1-0 home win and scoreless road draw.
The 2010 Golden Boot winner – who also tied for the league lead in goals last season only to fall short in the Golden Boot on an assist tiebreaker to Dwayne De Rosario – already has eight tallies this year. He’s level with Thierry Henry at the top of the scoring table.
“You just have to be aware of where he is in the box at all times,” Union defender Sheanon Williams said of matching up with Wondolowski. “I think that what he likes to do – he lulls you to sleep and then pops up in a different spot. He finishes extremely well, especially with his head. It’s just important that as soon as the ball goes wide to man up and to find a mark. That’ll be really important for us.”
When it comes to Wondolowski, the statistics say it all. He’s played every minute in 2012. 14 of his 27 shots have been put on frame and he’s also has an assist to go along with those eight goals.
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He’s doing it both at home and on the road. Four of his goals were scored in San Jose, while four have come on the road. Three have been game-winning goals.
“You can’t just let him drift and think that you have him,” Williams continued. “You have to be on him the whole time so that you can at least battle and get physical with him. That goes a long way towards keeping him from getting good chances on our goal.”
Wondolowski has scored in six of San Jose’s seven games this year and the Quakes are unbeaten this season when he finds the back of the net. That combination has helped San Jose to a 5-1-1 record, 16 points, and the top spot in the Western Conference.
“He’s been consistent for years, scoring goals and getting into good positions,” said Union manager Peter Nowak. “I think for us it well be a challenge as well. We’ll see who he’s going to play with, whether it’s Khari Stephenson or [Steven] Lenhart. We’ll see what their combination is going to be. But they are a handful.”
In Lenhart, Wondolowski has a big target man for a strike partner. Lenhart is a physical presence and draws defenders, which gives Wondolowski space to operate.
Stephenson has a broader skill set at the expense of presence in the penalty area. He can do a little bit of everything and shoots well from distance.
“We’ll see as the week goes by what kind of personnel we’re going to choose for this game,” Nowak added. “The results are very clear that San Jose are in good spirits and they’re winning games. We’ve got to make sure we play another good game.”