The curious case of Chris Wondolowski
By Devin Skrade
The Gold Cup initially appeared to be a coming out party for one of Major League Soccer’s premier goal scorers. But a second viewing of Tuesday’s game tape only left me with a deeper appreciation for the wonder that is Jozy Altidore.
San Jose Earthquakes’ striker Chris Wondolowski made a name for himself with the U.S. national team over the past two weeks, scoring goals at a prolific rate (five goals in three Gold Cup games) and becoming a major talking point in the American soccer community leading up to Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat of Costa Rica. But he struggled to make an impact in a game that was considerably less lopsided than their previous two matches.
My intention is not to criticize a player enjoying a wonderful run of form. Wondolowski is undoubtedly a goal scorer in the purest sense, and his instincts around the box are
Chicharitorian world class. His Eric Wynalda he makes the greatest runs in the box in the history of the game (seriously, listen to that Cuba goal call again). But I cannot imagine a scenario in the World Cup--or even in qualifying--when a one-dimensional striker would be of use.
Perhaps on a more dominant national team, but we are not there yet.
Until he proves otherwise, if Wondolowski is scoring goals for the U.S., one can safely assume that game was never in doubt in the first place, that his specific skill set merely helped the U.S. pour it on a hapless opponent.
For the sake of the U.S. national team and this country’s World Cup quest, I hope Wondolowski proves me wrong. His next chance is on Sunday. He may not get another.