I’m usually not one to encourage increasing the use of one guy. I see it as a weakness. Leaning almost entirely on a single player is a risk that most teams are not willing to take. Injuries, defensive schemes – they can all disrupt the flow of one guy. That being said, I do believe that the San Jose Earthquakes need to lean on Chris Wondolowski more.
See, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Wondolowski is one. He has scored seven goals. The Earthquakes as a whole have scored 12 goals, placing them fifth in a very tightly contested Western Conference. They are right in the thick of it by the will of Wondo alone. No one else on the Earthquakes has scored more than a goal. Not even the second striker Quincy Amarikwa.
Yet the Earthquakes continue running with a 4-4-2, where Wondolowski is only one point side of the attack.
Instead of running with two forwards, San Jose could drop Amarikwa in behind, almost like Arsenal did for Thierry Henry when they dropped Dennis Bergkamp just behind him. It wouldn’t be a strict No. 10 per say, but it would allow Wondolowski to exist as the sole forward, right in the middle of everything.
Another option is moving Matias Perez Garcia central. He has shown in the past that he can be a creator, as last year he was averaging three key passes per game.
The only potential drawback is that defenses can key in on Wondolowski. As the sole forward, they have one avenue to shut down. That being said, that’s how it is anyway. Wondo may have a striking partner, but he is not providing the threat needed to balance out the attack. By making Wondolowski the sole striker, they allow more creativity to swoop in behind him and deliver more chances.
As it stands, Amarikwa is averaging just about the same number of shots per appearance as Wondolowski. But the goals aren’t there to match it. Moving the seven-goal-man into the middle gives him more chances to take the shots that Amarikwa is taking and turn them into goals.
San Jose is in possession of a striker that can propel some seriously lopsided scorelines. As of right now they are hoping that one or two goals is enough, which, while it should be, it’s never a guarantee. Especially given the fact that while the Earthquakes have scored 12 goals, they have also surrendered 11. Breaking even will get you right where you’d expect it – mid table.
The formula isn’t broken. It’s hanging out. But just because it isn’t broken doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon.