Before Chris Wondolowski took the field Saturday, the San Jose Earthquakes forward had played 70 minutes since the start of April.
Because of Wondolowski’s lack of playing time, his quest for the Major League Soccer regular-season scoring record drifted out of the minds of casual observers.
Then the 36-year-old broke Landon Donovan’s record in stunning fashion by putting four goals past the Chicago Fire.
In a league that has revamped on the fly in recent years with big-name signings, fancy new stadiums and expansion teams that exceed expectations, players like Wondolowski — a veteran still plying his trade and competing for a spot in the starting lineup every week — can get lost in the discussion.
Not this week.
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) May 19, 2019
On Saturday at Avaya Stadium, Wondolowski once again showed off his preparedness in front of goal by taking advantage of defensive errors and putting himself in the right spot at the right time.
On his first goal in the 21st minute, Wondolowski kept space between himself and two defenders on the right side of the box and perfectly timed his run to connect with Shea Salinas’ cross from the left wing.
The record-breaking strike in the 48th minute wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but Wondolowski’s determination and ability to stick with a play until it’s whistled dead was on display. He took advantage of a slip-up by goalkeeper David Ousted to tap the ball into the back of the net on a play some strikers would have given up on.
Two goals would have been plenty to celebrate on his record-breaking afternoon, but Wondolowski didn’t stop scoring. His third strike in the 74th minute was another example of making the correct run into the box. Wondolowski cut to the left, rounded his run in between a pair of defenders and knocked home a Cristian Espinoza assist.
Wondolowski was again at the right place on his final goal, which he knocked in from space at the left post.
For years, people tried to define Wondolowski as the guy who missed the goal against Belgium at the World Cup.
That was obviously a low moment for the player and the U.S. Men’s National Team, but it was never going to define his career.
Wondolowski is a worker and didn’t let one miss slow him down. In the last four seasons, he’s scored 55 goals.
In fact, Wondolowski has scored 10 goals in every MLS season since 2010 and he’s now six away from that mark after his four-goal performance Saturday.
Wondo obviously took the spotlight in Week 12, but there were a few other major results we need to hit on.
The New York Red Bulls leaped into playoff position in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win over Atlanta United.
Tom Barlow, a second-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, scored the lone goal in a game that featured Josef Martinez and Pity Martinez. On the weekend Wondolowski broke the record, it seemed fitting a player who worked his way up the Red Bulls ladder scored against a team with flashy big-name signings on the field.
TOM BARLOW FROM A RIDICULOUS ANGLE!
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 19, 2019
The weekend concluded with the Colorado Rapids earning their first victory of the season. The Rapids earned a gritty 1-0 result on the road against the LA Galaxy.
An argument can be made Sunday’s result said more about the Galaxy’s struggles than the Rapids’ will to finally break through in the win column, but more on Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side below.
Goals of the Week
Bofo Saucedo, Real Salt Lake
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 18, 2019
Derek Cornelius, Vancouver Whitecaps
"Just go for it."
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 19, 2019
LA Galaxy The Broken
While you were busy watching Game of Thrones or the NBA Playoffs, the Galaxy stumbled to a 1-0 defeat against the worst team in MLS without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The loss to Colorado was a low point of a four-game losing streak in which the Galaxy have scored on three occasions and been shutout in the last two games.
The Galaxy need someone other than Ibrahimovic to start finding the back of the net. That starts with taking advantage of the high volume of crosses and shots they have recorded. Against the worst defense in MLS on Sunday, the Galaxy put six of their 18 shots on target and wasted the majority of their 38 crosses.
Another game without the suspended Ibrahimovic awaits on Friday against Orlando City. If the attack continues to struggle, the Galaxy could go into the Gold Cup break in serious slump.
There were three rough tackles that led to red cards this weekend.
Sporting Kansas City’s Krisztian Nemeth went studs up on Felipe in a game Peter Vermes’ side controlled until the Whitecaps equalized during second-half stoppage time.
— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) May 19, 2019
Alejandro Pozuelo picked up a second yellow for an unnecessary tackle on the left sideline and Paul Arriola was handed a straight red for sticking his foot into the chest of a defender.
All three red cards could have been prevented and now each player has set their teams back in preparations for Week 13.
No Love Lost
The Red Bulls and Atlanta United reignited their passionate rivalry Sunday, with Kemar Lawrence and Hector Villalba getting into a tussle.
It may not be the best rivalry in MLS, but it is certainly breaking into the top five. We’ll see happens July 7 at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
I'll just leave this here..
— Omir Oh My (@PATH2RBA) May 19, 2019
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake has won four of its last six games, including the last two. Saturday’s win over Toronto FC came against a tired team, but the Claret-and-Cobalt still got the job done and took care of business at home.
Mike Petke’s team is now up into the top seven of the Western Conference and has a real chance to make noise in the playoff hunt.
Stock Up: New England Revolution
New England has earned four points since the firing of Brad Friedel.
With Bruce Arena taking charge in June, the Revolution players have put together a pair of nice auditions for the new boss.
The Revs haven’t been perfect, but conceding a goal in two games and shutting out Montreal on the road are steps in the right direction.
Stock Down: FC Dallas
The Galaxy aren’t the only team in the West going through a lull in form.
FC Dallas, who took one point from two games against Los Angeles FC in Week 12, hasn’t won a game since April 20. In the last five games, Luchi Gonzalez’s team has earned two points and scored three goals.
Stock Down: Columbus Crew
It’s time to start getting worried about the Columbus Crew.
Caleb Porter’s side appeared to get back on track with a win over the Galaxy last week, but has reverted back to losing ways and now has seven losses in eight games.
With most of the teams in the East trending upward, the Crew could put themselves in a hole they can’t recover from later in the season.