Ask any team out there what they want in a striker over a three year period. The first answer will be someone that does the exact same thing every season, without hiccups and with perfect consistency. But that person doesn’t exist. Ask again and tell them you want a realistic answer this time. They will tell you they want someone who improves every year.
Or they may even say someone that improves something every year.
By that latter standard, the San Jose Earthquake are incredibly spoiled by their front man Chris Wondolowski. There’s a reason why he has the best goals per game ratio of anyone in the top five all-time MLS scorers (he sits fifth).
It is difficult to find consistency as a striker. Very difficult. They face a new defense every week and each defense is going to try to figure out a new way to make your life suck. That’s their job. It is your job to ensure that life stays grand and the goals keep falling. Not only that, but the longer you are exposed to other teams, the more they will understand what you’re all about and the more they can plan for. Therefore you have to continue to develop. Or else.
It is a rare striker that can accomplish these feats with a regularity that earns the word ‘consistent’ but Chris Wondolowski takes the word to a new level. Not only does he do it consistently, but he improves consistently. At 33 years of age, he is still improving.
I know that you’re thinking – is that even possible? Yes. It is. But before you just believe me because I said it, let’s get into some numbers.
After a prolific 2012 where Wondolowski led in everything, he hit a bit of a rut. However, since that rut, the complete and whole improvements began. Since 2013, Wondo has scored more goals each consecutive year. He has been dispossessed less with each passing year. He has improved his shot accuracy every single year. Those are the big three.
Aside from that, everything else has stayed in the same range – pass completion, aerial duels won, chances created. All have remained close to the same.
So while the 2013 season was a let off, dropping from 27 league goals to 11, it’s hard to take much away from him because he is only getting better with age since that massive drop off.
This year looks to be a return to his old form. It’s hard to be more consistent than scoring a goal in five out of six games to climb to the top of MLS’s goal scoring charts.
San Jose has a solid, reliable striker. The type that so many clubs out there would love to get their hands on. It will be interesting to see how high he can take them and how high he can take himself as he leads the race for the Golden Boot.