Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One on One with Chris Wondolowski

The season may not have gone as planned for the San Jose Earthquakes, or even for Chris Wondolowski. Still, despite his teams troubles, Wondo remains at the top of the charts in scoring. Currently he is tied with Dwayne De Rosario of DC United, each with 15 goals apiece. With one game left for the Earthquakes, San Jose fans are wondering if their striker will retain the Golden Boot honor for a second consecutive year.

After starting out a bit slow in league play, Wondo heated up midseason. He earned a Gold Cup call up by then US Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley in May. After that he returned to the Earthquakes to continue his goal scoring ways, but San Jose still struggled in the standings. I caught up with Chris Wondolowski to find out just what’s on his mind after such an up and down year. What I found was a remarkably competitive player who maintains an extremely positive attitude about his life and situations.

MLS Reserves: Can you start off by talking about how has the season gone thus far for you personally?

Chris Wondolowski: “For me personally, it’s gone along with the team. There’ve been a lot of ups and downs. I think the high point for me was making the Gold Cup. That was the highest honor for me to have received. I truly appreciate Coach Bradley giving me that chance.”

“I’ve been able to score some goals here and there. To be on the field though with this team [San Jose] I feel like I’ve left a lot out there. I’ve had some pretty good chances that I haven’t finished and so looking back at this season, even though I’m kind of up there in scoring I’m still kind of mad about leaving so many chances out there.”

MLS Reserves: San Jose has struggled at times this season, but you’ve maintained your scoring touch. How do you stay motivated through tough times?

Chris Wondolowski: “I’m a very competitive person. Haha, you can ask my family, friends and my wife. They’ll all tell you I’m very competitive in anything I do. It doesn’t matter whether it’s practice, games or has play off implications or if it’s just a regular game. I’m going to give it one hundred percent no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if I’m struggling and haven’t scored in ten games or if I’ve scored in nine out of ten games. I still think about the same confidence and belief in myself just as much.”

MLS Reserves: Does that competitiveness come into play now, knowing San Jose is out of the playoffs but you’re still in the race for the Golden Boot? Is that something in your mind? Something you think about?

Chris Wondolowski: “To be honest, as a forward I don’t think I can really think about that. I know if we play well, we’ll create opportunitites and if we create opportunities, I know I’ll be on the end of a couple of those and it’s up to me to finish them. That’s my main concern is that we play as well as we can and as a team. If we do that, I know they’ll be some chances out there.”

MLS Reserves:  Many of your goals come from poaching in front of the goal and simply finishing. Is this something you try that comes naturally to you or something you have to work on?

Chris Wondolowski: “I think it’s a bit of both. I think that I have that natural ability to finish but I also work at it a lot. I do a lot of finishing practice with Ian Russell and Frank Yallop. We do a lot of that stuff each day with the goalkeepers. I think that’s helped me a whole lot.”

“Even early in my career with John Spencer and Dom Kinnear they really brought that into me and that’s helped me a lot throughout my career.”

MLS Reserves: “You mentioned the highlight of your summer was the Gold Cup. Do you think at all about how you might break in to Jurgen Klinsmann’s mold? Is that something you’re working towards?

Chris Wondolowski: “Yes. I’m trying to do whatever I can and I’d love to have an opportunity. I’m going to continue to work as hard as I can. I definitely know that Coach Klinsmann has a certain concept and formation that he wants to play. All I can do is work as hard as possible to see if I fit in.”

MLS Reserves:  Looking forward, where do you see yourself going?  Do you have aspirations of Europe or playing abroad?

Chris Wondolowski: “To be truly honest, I am very happy right here. That being said it’s always been a goal and an aspiration to play in Europe. I would love to do that and it’d be a dream come true. To be honest though, it’s kind of a win-win for me. If I stay here I’m a happy guy. I have friends and family here and it’s my hometown team. Still, I wouldn’t mind trying my art somewhere else. Whatever I do, I know I’ll give it my best.”

MLS Reserves: What is Chris Wondolowski like in his spare time, away from the field? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Chris Wondolowski: “I’m a pretty simple guy haha. There’s not a whole lot about me. I have two dogs, I love taking them to park and wrestling around with them. That’s the best. I also love playing golf. I think those are my two main hobbies right now. I’d also have to say spending time with my wife. It’s those three things that I love.

MLS Reserves: With the offseason coming up, what are your plans? What will you do to stay fit?

Chris Wondolowski: “I know the first two or three weeks I will totally get away and rejuvenate…I’ll let myself just rest and recuperate. It’s been a long season. After those two or three weeks I’ll hit the gym again.”

“For fun I coach some high school teams and some club teams. I know I’ll be playing with them. Haha, there’s a lot of great players in the Bay Area. We always get together in the winter time and play small sided games so I know I’ll be involved in those. They’re good friends and great guys. I know I’ll be in shape and ready for this upcoming season when the time is right.”

MLS Reserves: Chris thank you for your time and all the best in the final match and offseason.

As a journalist, it’s not uncommon to get a ‘vibe’ from talking to players. Upon hanging up the phone I found myself impressed by just how genuine Wondo was. It was clear that while the Golden Boot was something he’d like to have, he’d settle for his team playing well. There is clearly a love for the game that goes beyond his scoring goals or winning awards. Chris Wondolowski plays soccer because he loves it. In season where his team has struggled, to maintain that positive attitude is a testament to his character. It’s clear the future remains bright Wondo.