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April 2, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Defending the unstoppable force that is Chris Wondolowski

wondolowski.jpgPhoto credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

How big is Chris Wondolowski? Well, he had a Chuck Norris-esque Twitter hashtag #wondotales last week. Some highlights:

@jonahfreedman: @ChrisWondo once rejected a loan move to Real Madrid because he doesn’t like the color white. #wondotales

@AllenAHopkins: @jonahfreedman Sharks Have a week dedicated to @ChrisWondo. #wondotales

@fenriquez9: I heard David Beckham got the lead role in a movie called “Bend It like Wondo” @ChrisWondo #wondotales

If any one player in the league is the antithesis of Sounders FC’s finishing woes it’s Wondolowski — the reigning Golden Boot winner in MLS has been on a scoring tear. Before last year he was a journeyman, but he suddenly caught fire in 2010 and finished with 18 goals.

He’s scored the last 12 league goals for San Jose in regular-season games. Remarkable.

After the jump is a collection of all the Sounders FC material from this week regarding the red-hot Earthquakes forward, in case you missed it earlier:

* * *


(On Chris Wondolowski carrying over his 2010 form to this season…) “He’s been on fire. I don’t think anybody could’ve predicted what he did last year in advance. I think if all of us here were given a $100 and you could bet on that at 1,000-to-1 odds, you probably wouldn’t have done it. He’s been great. The two goals he scored last week against Dallas were superb. He’s on fire. He’s finishing really well. We got to keep him off the board for sure.”

(Was it just a matter of him figuring things out last year?) “Sometimes it’s a little bit of that. When you look at the history of soccer in other leagues, sometimes there’s a guy who just has a banner year scoring goals and never comes close to that again. Obviously the way Chris has started off this season with the two goals against Dallas it doesn’t look like it’s a one-year thing. Part of it is he figured it out. Part of it is he got sufficient playing time, to give him the opportunity. And part of it is he got into a team where there weren’t other guys they were looking for and he became the focal point of their game — and he responded.”

(On what has made him successful…) “…He’s just been in great form. His finishing was impeccable against Dallas. They’re playing sort of a 4-5-1 — sometimes he’s up front, sometimes he’s coming out of midfield. It’s hard to get a handle on him, sometimes defenders lose him and he’s made them pay the price when they lose him.”


(On defending Wondolowski…) “Definitely kudos to Wondolowski. He’s definitely a quality player and a quality guy. He’s paid his dues for sure and he’s gotten into a situation where he’s flourishing. We’ll look to keep an eye on him for sure. He’s able to create his own goals. He’s just a smart players — a schemer, a poacher, he gets in the right spots. We’ll look to have a hand or a body on him whenever he’s in the box.”

(Do you run the risk of focusing too much on him and leaving space for his teammates to beat you?) “Right, totally, that’s always the case. We’ll just go down there and play a good, disciplined, spirited game like we did last time when we were able to pull out a 1-0 victory against a quality side, and they were playing well at that time. We know we’ve been getting chances in front of goal so we’ll look to keep it at zero at the back and give our offense a chance to win it for us.”


(On defending Wondolowski…) “He’s a crafty, cheeky little player. He likes to get in clever little spots. As a defender, for us it’s difficult because you have to keep a close eye on him — hopefully an arm on him or something. He’s slick and he can punish you in the first minute or the 90th minute. He could be having one of those games where you don’t see him at all and then in the 90th minute he could poke one in or get a good chance. Obviously he’s got some momentum too with the goals last week, so he’s on a high right now.”

(On his quick-strike ability…) “He’s a good player. He’s one of those guys that only needs half a window. And he’s smart about it. He doesn’t need a yard on you. He needs half a yard and he’ll pull the trigger. His goals this weekend showed that: quick touch, turn, fire. He’s hungry around the goal and he’s a good finisher. He’s a guy you need to be close to at all times, get a bump on him. He’s going to be tough. We got to be sharp.”


(On defending Wondolowski…) “I just think you have to be really aware of him and his movement. You got to be ready to move. He likes to move around and be busy. You just can’t take a break really. It’s more of a concentration thing. It’s not something where he’s going to blow past you with speed or push you off the ball because he’s super strong or anything like that. He’s just a very smart player and a very busy player and you just have to be aware of him at all times.”


(On defending Wondolowski…) “I think when a guy’s in great form and scoring a lot of goals I think you have to put a little bit more extra emphasis in your thought process when it comes to defending somebody like that. Make somebody else beat you, not the guy who’s got the hot hand. I know that’s pretty much with every sport. You got a guy shooting the lights out in basketball you want to get somebody a little tighter to him, you know? And the same in soccer. Guys are on a hot streak because they’re doing something right, but I feel good. We’ve been defending pretty well. It’s going to be a fun match-up.”


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