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MLS Week 2 preview: Wondo Watch, big clash in West and more

Mar 2, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski (8) in the game against the Montreal Impact during the first half at Avaya Stadium. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

At some point in the near future, fans will rise for an extended ovation and praise will come in from all over social media to celebrate San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski.

Wondolowski is one goal away from tying Landon Donovan’s all-time scoring record of 145 goals, and Wondo’s recent success against Minnesota United suggests he’ll receive plenty of chances to reach the mark Saturday night when the Quakes host the Loons at 8 p.m. ET.

In his four regular-season games against the Loons, Wondolowski has two goals and four assists, including a goal and an assist off the bench on May 12, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium. 

Wondo Watch has taken a back seat to all of the new additions made by larger clubs throughout MLS, but pause for a second to admire the success of an MLS 1.0 player in the MLS 3.0 era. 

Unfortunately, Wondolowski’s name will always be associated with his miss against Belgium at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but all he’s done since is consistently score in double digits for San Jose.

Wondolowski has scored in double digits every season since 2010, and until last season, he was tied for the most goals in a single season for the 27 he netted in 2012.

What’s even more remarkable about Wondolowski is that if he breaks the record in the first half of the MLS season, which is likely, he’ll reach 145 goals quicker than Donovan.

Donovan scored his 145th and final MLS goal in his 336th-career game. Wondolowski will be playing in his 329th-career match Saturday. Wondolowski’s also made fewer starts than Donovan, who recorded 315 starts in his career. If he finds himself in Matias Almeyda’s starting XI on Saturday, Wondolowski will make his 280th-career start. 

Saturday would be a perfect night for Wondolowski to at least tie the all-time scoring mark since he’ll be at home, has had some success against the Loons, Minnesota gave up a pair of goals on the road in Week 1, and the game is the only one in its time slot Saturday. 

Of course, the dream scenario would be for Wondo to break the record on a nationally-televised Saturday afternoon game at Red Bull Arena in Week 3, but why wait if he can find the back of the net twice on Saturday.

Regardless of when he breaks the record, Wondolowski deserves the appreciation coming his way after being lost in the shuffle of new acquisitions and being the butt of Twitter jokes (admit it, you’ve all made the Wondo joke at least once).

Week 2 Schedule

Saturday, March 9

Orlando City at Chicago Fire (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Columbus Crew at New England Revolution (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

LA Galaxy at FC Dallas (3:30 p.m. ET, Univision)

Montreal Impact at Houston Dynamo (5 p.m. ET, TVA Sport, ESPN+)

Vancouver Whitecaps at Real Salt Lake (6 p.m. ET, TSN1, ESPN+)

Minnesota United at San Jose Earthquakes (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sunday, March 10

Philadelphia Union at Sporting Kansas City (3 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

D.C. United at New York City FC (3 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United (5 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Portland Timbers at LAFC (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) 

Player to Watch 

Michael Barrios, F, FC Dallas

FC Dallas has the offensive weapons in place to give the LA Galaxy its first true defensive test under Guillermo Barros Schelotto. 

The three-pronged attack, led by Michael Barrios, should be able to stretch the Galaxy defense and force them into tough situations.

Barrios scored the club’s lone goal in Week 1 against the New England Revolution, and he’ll try to extend his scoring run to two games against a Galaxy defense that didn’t look perfect against the Fire. 

The success of Barrios is important to FC Dallas because the club is looking for a consistent scorer to step up and fill the void left by the offseason trade of Maxi Urruti to the Montreal Impact. 

Matchup to Watch 

Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri (Portland) vs. Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC)

The midfield matchup in Sunday’s Week 2 finale at Banc of California Stadium is as good as they come in MLS. 

Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri are two of the most dynamic attackers, and they’ve formed a chemistry in the Portland midfield that makes them incredibly hard to stop.

Enter Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye from LAFC, who will be tasked with limiting the production of the Portland duo. 

Atuesta had one of the better Week 1 performances of any defensive-minded player, and he’s capable of stopping Portland’s attack while springing one of LAFC’s marches down the field. 

Whichever duo wins the midfield battle on Sunday night should lead their team to three points in an early crucial matchup for playoff seeding out in the Western Conference. 

Best MLS Fantasy Option

Przemyslaw Frankowski, M, Chicago Fire

If you need a reason to tune into the first two hours of Saturday’s marathon schedule, here’s one courtesy of the Chicago Fire attack. 

Midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski showed some bright spurts in the Fire’s loss to the LA Galaxy, and with Orlando City’s defense coming to SeatGeek Park, he has an opportunity in front of him to use his pace to frustrate the Lions full backs. 

The 23-year-old Polish playmaker contributed three key passes in his 55 touches in Week 1, and with Nemanja Nikolic and C.J. Sapong up top to feed to, Frankowski should receive plenty of opportunities to produce scoring opportunities. 

Bold Prediction

Houston, Sporting KC, Atlanta Rebound From CCL Losses With Victories

Three of the four MLS teams still alive in the Concacaf Champions League take to the field this weekend, with the New York Red Bulls taking the weekend off. 

Houston, Sporting Kansas City and Atlanta United have favorable home matchups in Week 2 against weaker opposition. 

The Dynamo may not be at full strength since they have to take the trip down to Mexico to face Tigres on Wednesday, but they do have plenty of attacking depth to consistently challenge the Impact. 

Sporting KC rested a few of their starting attackers on Wednesday night, which could lead to an onslaught against Philadelphia before in preparation for Independiente’s visit to Blue Hell on Thursday. 

Atlanta United takes on FC Cincinnati on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and even though the Five Stripes might not be a full strength with an eye on Wednesday’s home clash with Monterrey, they should produce a stellar performance against the expansion side in front of a raucous home crowd. 

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