Chris Wondolowski looks to continue his goal-scoring binge Saturday when the San Jose Earthquakes host FC Dallas in the final match for the clubs before the two-week Gold Cup recess.
After failing to bulge the net in his first seven matches, Wondolowski has found a purple patch of goals with seven in his last three contests, accounting for all of San Jose’s offense in that span. The surge has moved him ahead of Landon Donovan as the all-time leading scorer in MLS, but it also has put the Earthquakes (5-3-6) in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference as they enter this contest one point out of seventh.
The Earthquakes took four of six points on an East Coast road swing, beating Toronto FC before settling for a 1-1 draw at D.C. United last Saturday. Wondolowski’s goal in the 25th minute was canceled out by Luciano Acosta in the second half, but San Jose is unbeaten in three matches (2-1-0) and has claimed at least one point in seven of its last eight (4-3-1).
Coach Matias Almeyda, though, is concerned about the challenge FC Dallas brings after the teams played to a scoreless draw in Texas on April 27. The ‘Quakes will be without three defenders – Nick Lima, Guram Kashia and Harold Cummings – due to international commitments, and midfielder Anibal Godoy is also out as part of Panama’s build-up for the Gold Cup.
“It’s the second time we will face this team and we will need a different strategy,” he told the club’s official website Thursday. “We are thinking of changing the way we play and possibly give (FC Dallas) more space.”
Almeyda will welcome back influential midfielder Cristian Espinoza and defender Tommy Thompson after the pair sat out last Saturday’s draw on a yellow card accumulation ban.
FC Dallas (6-3-6) will have no empathy for San Jose’s personnel issues considering it too will be without a slew of players due to international commitments. The Hoops are missing notable playmaker Paxton Pomykal – one of three FC Dallas players in Poland with Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerillo trying to lead the U.S. Under-20 side to the World Cup semifinals – and could be without as many as eight players overall.
“It’s not easy but all the teams in MLS are dealing with something similar,” Hoops coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “It’s part of this process, we have guys step up. Guys in training are competing hard to play against San Jose and that’s what we want to see.”
The Hoops picked up a vital 2-1 win over Seattle last Saturday to snap a six-match winless spell. They were the beneficiaries of a pair of own goals by the Sounders in the first half, though both came as a result of pressure FC Dallas created in the final third.
The Hoops have dropped three straight on the road since beating MLS Cup champion Atlanta on April 20 and have just six points from their seven road matches (2-5-0). FC Dallas is winless in its last five (0-2-3) versus the Earthquakes but has taken at least one point in five of its last six trips to San Jose (2-1-3).
(Chris Wondolowski photo courtesy Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports)