When the Houston Dynamo take on the San Jose Earthquakes this Saturday (6 cst on Fox Sports Houston Plus, Multimedios, Sports790.com) they will come up against an old friend and now a foe. Former Dynamo Chris Wondolowski has been the most prolific goal scorer in MLS the past two seasons scoring 34 goals in two seasons. In 2010 he hit for a remarkable 18 goals and then followed with 16 in 2011 . Few believed that Wondolowski would follow up 2010 with another banner season.
If you remember when Wondolowski was in Houston and honed his game in the reserves many would often comment that he was the best finisher in training sessions. He also cited the fact that the Dynamo staff played a large part in helping him learn the tricks of the trade at the striker position. In Houston from 2006-2009 he scored four goals in 37 appearances and was a part of two championship teams. He did get a run of games at the striker position where he had an opportunity to prove himself out.
He ultimately was a part of a striker swap that saw him move to San Jose and Cam Weaver to the Dynamo.
“I learned from some of the best, Dominic Kinnear, a great coach and John Spencer”, said Wondolowski. He (Spencer) really took me under his wing and taught me the tricks of the trade. I got a great opportunity in San Jose.”
So is there extra incentive against his former teammates?
“It’s strictly business. I do have great friends. I consider Brad Davis and Cory Ashe some of my greatest friends. I still have a great relationship with Dominic Kinnear. There definetly is not bitter emotion but I do want to meet them to have bragging rights over Brad.”
There is no doubt that Wondolowski’s career has taken a turn for the better as scoring goals has led to a better contract and more stability in his life. He did call it “life changing” on Sports Talk 790 with me this past Monday.
The Earthquakes are clearly trying to mix a more possession oriented style to go along with the direct nature of the team they had last year. They also have great pace in wide areas which will be a challenge to the Dynamo and is a lifeline to strikers when it comes to helping them find space. Shea Salinas has returned to San Jose and former FC Dallas wide man Marvin Chavez can fly and beat people.
Keep an eye on the Chavez v. Cory Ashe matchup out wide, should be a good one.
Wondolowski is relentless with his work ethic and thirst for scoring goals. He seems to be a player that positionally finds a way to be where the ball ultimately is. How many goals have we seen him score by framing and getting to the back post? Against NE in the 1-0 win where he scored the game winner last weekend, Wondolowski could be seen coming back into midfield to both play a part in the build up and to defend. His movement is dangerous.
He will partner a real “agitator” up front in Steven “Big Bird” Lenhart who initiates contact, throws himself at everything delivered into the box, flicks balls on and will occupy defenders. Lenhart says “he likes to wrestle” if that tells you anything. Lenhart though with his style will ultimately continue to draw attention to himself and one wonders how referees will handle this? Dynamo center backs Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell will engage in this mano de mano against the two strikers.
This was clearly one of the best games of the year and for the moment has Chelsea fans going crazy. The aggregate come from behind win over Napoli yesterday featured a vintage performance from 34 year old Didier Drogba. Interim manager Robert DiMatteo remains undefeated and the “blues” reached back in their past to pull off a remarkable comeback in overtime. What a watch this was!
SEATTLE SMASHED BY SANTOS/TFC UPSET GALS
So much for getting the win in Mexico. Giving up two goals in the first ten minutes put the Sounders in a hole but with a goal near halftime hope was restored.
In the second half Santos showed why they are considered the top team in Mexico behind two goals from U.S. born Herculez Gomez and thrashed a Sounders lineup that featured foreign players in 9 of 11 positions.
Meanwhile, Toronto FC turned up and beat the LA Galaxy at home 2-1 to knock the defending MLS champions out of Concacaf. TFC got great performances from Ryan Johnson, Torsten Frings at center back and gk Milos Kocic in a historic win.
LA clearly has struggled defensively with the absence of defender Omar Gonzalez who continues to re-hab his knee. Remember, LA did not lose last year at home and now in the span of five days has lost twice. Real Salt Lake beat them 3-1 on Saturday. All is not ok in Lala (great yogurt) land at the moment. Make no mistake, the Galaxy are hurting after this loss.
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