San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski has scored three career CONCACAF Champions League goals. (Photo: Denis Concordel/www.widgic.com)
TUCSON, Arizona -- With their Champions League quarterfinal opening match more than a month away, the San Jose Earthquakes took a measured approach during the first two weeks of their preseason training camp. Now, as a March 11 date with Toluca inches closer, the Quakes have ramped up their preparations.
Currently on the Tucson, Arizona, leg of their itinerary, the Earthquakes lost a friendly against fellow MLS side Seattle Sounders, 2-1, on Wednesday, and will face the Houston Dynamo this Saturday. And rejoining the squad after a month away with the United States national team are two players San Jose will lean on heavily this season, striker Chris Wondolowski and center back Clarence Goodson.
“They will be here for our game on Saturday against Houston,” said Earthquakes head coach Mark Watson earlier this week, “and I think there is a good chance they will a part of it. It will be good for them to get out there and have a chance to be with the other guys. They’ve missed the first ten days of camp, so it gives them an introduction to the new team.”
The two Earthquakes stars reported to the national team in early January and were integral members of a squad made up almost entirely of MLS players. Training stints held domestically and abroad gave Wondolowski and Goodson plenty of time in front of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann as both players made their case for inclusion in the 23-man roster the U.S. will take to Brazil for this summer’s FIFA World Cup. While Goodson seems more of a certainty to make the team, Wondolowski’s fate is far from determined.
“It’s been a great experience for him, his time with the national team,” said Watson. “They are looking at those little things as they decide on the final squad that will go to Brazil. So for him to have a great camp and score the two goals against Korea is great for him.”
The U.S. concluded its January training camp with an international friendly against Korea Republic. Wondolowski, 31, started the match and scored both goals in the national team’s 2-0 victory at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
“It just shows what he has,” said Watson. “He has an incredible instinct for goal, and the game against Korea was a perfect example of that.”
The Earthquakes will hope to see Wondolowski continue those exploits when he returns to the club. After matching an MLS record in 2012 with 27 goals scored, Wondolowski slipped to just 11 last year, but he played half the season with a broken bone in his foot. Over the past four seasons, the forward has netted a league-best 72 goals for the Quakes, and coach Watson couldn’t be happier to welcome him back to the team.
“In terms in where he’s at with respect to returning to the Earthquakes, he’s in great shape,” said Watson. “He was part of a tough U.S. camp by all accounts and comes back fit and ready. He joins us totally focused on getting ready for the season.”