With the burden of trying to become the all-time leading scorer in MLS history finally off Chris Wondolowski’s shoulders, the goals are coming in rapid-fire fashion.
Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes seek their first three-match league winning streak since 2015 on Saturday night when they face Eastern Conference frontrunner D.C. United.
The veteran forward and former U.S. international went the first 10 matches of the season without finding the back of the net as the 36-year-old remained stuck one goal behind Landon Donovan’s all-time mark of 145. The tying – and record-setting – goals came 27 minutes apart in San Jose’s 4-2 victory over Chicago on May 18, and he started adding distance from Donovan by scoring the other two goals in that win.
Wondolowski’s scoring binge continued Sunday north of the border as he bagged a brace on either side of halftime in a 2-1 victory at Toronto FC. He netted the match-winner on 81 minutes for the Earthquakes (5-2-6), whose last three-game winning streak came as part of a four-match run from Aug. 14-28, 2015.
“It’s been fun. Goal scoring comes in bunches, whether good or bad, and right now they’re coming so I’m trying to take advantage of it,” said Wondolowski, who broke another of Donovan’s all-time league marks with his 42nd match-winning goal and 150th overall.
“To be honest (the second goal) was a great play by Cristian Espinoza, the way he was able to fly down that flank tonight, he sent in a few good balls and I was just happy to find myself on the end of a couple of them.”
San Jose is currently below the playoff line in eighth place in the West but is just one point out of a postseason spot. The ‘Quakes are seeking their first back-to-back road wins since Aug. 19 and 22, 2015, as part of that aforementioned four-game win streak.
D.C. United (7-5-4) enters play this weekend atop the Eastern Conference by one point over the Philadelphia Union but trying to snap a four-match winless spell (0-1-3). The Black-and-Red settled for a point in a wild 3-3 draw at home versus the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night.
Ulises Segura’s brace on either side of halftime erased a two-goal deficit, and United had a chance to claim all three points after Luciano Acosta headed home a cross by Leonard Jara on 81 minutes. But D.C.’s defense broke down in stoppage time, failing to clear a ball popped into the penalty area as Francisco Calvo netted the equalizer in the 92nd minute.
“It feels like a defeat when you concede late, but overall, it’s probably a fair result,” said forward Wayne Rooney, who assisted on Segura’s first to start the comeback. “We showed great character to come from behind by two goals to take the lead, but it needs to be there until the end.”
Rooney has factored on 13 of United’s 22 goals, scoring a team-high eight, but the former England international has scored only one goal in his last five home matches.
The Black-and-Red made quick work of the Earthquakes in last year’s lone meeting as Zoltan Stieber, Darren Mattocks, and Yamil Asad all scored in the first 37 minutes of a 3-1 win at San Jose. Acosta set up the first two goals in the 15th and 20th minutes.
(Chris Wondolowski photo courtesy San Jose Earthquakes official Twitter account)