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The Magic of the Elder Wond and Why He Won't Make the Cut

by Tom Blanton
Feb 18, 2014 4:23 PM EST



When Chris “Wondo” Wondolowski first took the pitch for the U.S Men's National Team three years ago, he was unknown on the international stage as the Kama Sutra might be in a nunnery. Granted, he had become a known goal-smith with the San Jose Earthquakes following their 2010 season, but his talent had yet to be showcased outside MLS. He debatably remained nothing more than an interesting name until two and a half years later. During America’s successful 2013 Gold Cup campaign, Wondo found the net five times in two matches. His performance during the North American tournement promoted his name to be acceptably mentioned in the same sentence as USMNT's golden boy Landon Donovan. Yet, the World Cup was still a year away and America’s more prominent strikers were back in the mix for the four qualifiers in September and October. Despite USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s stated admiration for San Jose’s finest, Jozy Altidore and Aron Jóhannsson were simply better options. Both have plenty of experience on the European front, and are much younger and agile than Wondo – who recently turned 31. Fortunately for those who admire the MLS hotshot, the Gold Cup wasn’t the last time the USMNT fans saw of his prowess. During the recent friendly against South Korea, Klinsmann again summoned Wondo. Altidore and Jóhannsson were away with their clubs – Sunderland and AZ Alkmaar, respectively – which left local players as the alternative. Wondo answered by scoring both goals in the shutout, showcasing a determined vigor that once again proved he might be capable of crossing swords on the world stage. Though nothing is set in stone with the USMNT’s World Cup roster, it’s safe to assume only injury could keep certain players from making the cut. Altidore and Jóhannsson are practically locked. For the third, likely final, open spot at the position, Rapid Vienna’s Terrence Boyd and Tijuana’s Herculez Gomez are the frontrunners, with Boyd looking the most promising. So where does that leave Wondo? Likely behind in the States, watching his sporadic teammates on TV like the rest of us. As it should be, though I don’t like to admit it. The 31-year-old found his form too late in his career and never truly tested his mettle outside the MLS. Now it’s too late. Wondo’s confidence may be riding high after his eight goals in 18 international appearances, but the opponents were never world class. Compared to Germany, Portugal and Ghana, they were mediocre at best. Jóhannsson and Boyd are promising up-and-comers who could thrive with the experience, and Altidore and Gomez have already played in a World Cup. When considering his noble international performances in the past year, it’s a shame Wondo likely won’t be attending Brazil. But it’s right. Klinsmann is a winner, and he’ll be bringing players with him he believes will provide those W’s. That’s what it’s all about.