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Americans at home: The record is all Wondo’s

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An unlikely soccer legend if there ever was one

MLS: Chicago Fire at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

History was made in MLS on Saturday when the MLS all time goals record was broken by Chris Wondolowski. It took a while and it seemed like it wouldn’t come but Wondo broke Landon Donovan’s all time MLS goals record scoring four times against the Chicago Horrible and Flaming Defensive Lapses on Saturday. The hat trick plus one was puts an exclamation point on a career that seems extremely improbable in retrospect. Wondolowski wasn’t offered a college scholarship from a D-1 school and ended up playing with the Chico State Wildcats and he now has the most goals in MLS history.

When he came to MLS it wasn’t until his 5th year in the league that he started getting regular playing time - a season in which he scored 18 goals. The goals would keep coming. Until last year Wondo was tied with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Roy Lassiter for most goals in a season with 27 and he has scored 10+ goals in every year this decade.

If the striker is known for one thing, in terms of playing style, it is his movement off the ball, a fact that was observed by John Terry when the two played in the MLS All-Star game in 2012. Of course there was also the miss in 2014 and the irony of the leading MLS goal scorer being best known for flubbing a chance to etch his name into USMNT lore is the type of duality the game subjects fans and players to that is why it taps so deeply into human emotion.

Over that decade of goal scoring prowess, San Jose would squander his talent by failing to build a team that he could lead to an MLS Cup. The team would make the playoffs just three times between 2009-2018, though the 2012 season would be one of the best in MLS history.

Here are all the teams Wondo has scored against (he put so many in the net against Chivas they had to fold the franchise).

Still, the four goals are pure Wondolowski - he’s mostly known as a poacher, but his ability to be where the ball falls is uncanny and a skill that he has been able to morph into a legendary career.

Wondo was sitting on the record for the entire season and it seemed like he may not have a chance to break it, but he shattered it in one game. Congrats Wondo, you are an unlikely legend and history maker.

Anyway, onto the other Yanks in MLS.

Yeah, I have to talk about Michael Bradley forever apparently

I know you are all mad that Michael Bradley will probably be on the national team for the Gold Cup, but look at what he did against DC United:

That’s so many geometric shapes, it’s almost like DCU wasn’t trying to play soccer at all in the 0-0 draw. He didn’t fare as well against Real Salt Lake as Toronto has been exposed as a team that has one good player that their opponents can mark out of games. RSL beat Toronto 3-0 in no small part thanks to this goal from Bofo Saucedo - his first of 2019.

More like Memore Goals Rodriguez and less like DC United wants to win on the road

Memo Rodriguez has been a nice surprise verging on “break out” for Houston this year. The Dynamo winger started in Houston’s 1-1 draw against Portland earning an assist in the game and came off the bench for 79 minutes as Alberth Elis left with an apparent head injury early on. Elis has been a break out for Houston and Rodriguez stepped in effectively for the Dynamo star with a goal against DC United.

Credit to Leonardo Jara who cut Canouse off on the play rather than just track the runner he was originally covering to give Memo a screen to get the space to get the shot off there.

DC United went on the road against a beatable Toronto team midweek and a good Houston Dynamo team over the weekend and came away with one point across the 180 minutes. There’s been something of a trope in MLS that playing on the road is hard because teams have to sit on an airplane and then sleep in a hotel before a game, but DCU didn’t do themselves any favors. They have three of the best attacking players in MLS and decided to set themselves up for a draw in both games - add to the hotels and airplanes coaches who are risk averse to their own detriment. Against TFC the highlight for DC was that Bill Hamid got his 7th clean sheet of the year in an unwatchable 0-0 draw. Against Houston it was that Wayne Rooney scored then Memo tied it and Tommy McNamara scored the game winner and then Paul Arriola got a red card. DC is good and could win the East, but Ben Olsen needs to decide not to be afraid of his own shadow on the road.

The Dysfunction Derby

Watching Orlando City is like seeing what FC Cincinnati could be if they work really hard and take ten years to put together a team that can compete in MLS one day. The teams squared off Sunday and there wasn’t much in terms of what Americans had to offer in the match. Dom Dwyer came off the bench when Nani got tired and scored the 5th goal for Orlando in the 5-1 win. Chris Muller got the start on the wing and seems like he has Ethan Finlay-like potential and had two key passes in the game.

FCC fired their coach and seems to have gotten worse for it. They were rumored to be looking at bringing in, don’t laugh, David Moyes to take over but so far that has only been a rumor. I mention them because the 40 man Gold Cup roster did not include the name Kenny Saief and checking in on him it’s clear that the combination of being on a bad team, injuries, and adjusting to MLS hasn’t been easy in 2019. He has just a goal and two assists and only played 25 minutes in the loss.

Speaking of Ethan Finlay

Look at him - he scored a goal!

Minnesota is bad and the Crew are led by a manager who deserves the unflattering Pep Guardiola nickname people are using with Gregg Berhalter, but it’s nice that a one time really promising American winger is settling in somewhere. That’s Finlay’s first goal of 2019 as the Loons beat Columbus 1-0.

Philly is a soccer team that is in first place in the East

OK I still don’t know if Philly is for real or not, but they did crush the Seattle Sounders everywhere except for the back of the net thanks to a standout game from Stefan Frei. Otherwise the Sounders were bad. Philly fired off 20 shots with six on goal, they dominated Seattle but they drew at home. Luckily, if they can claim a moral victory it is that Brenden Aaronson has skill - this is very good:

The eighteen year-old had four shots in his 77 minutes and answers the question - what if Cristian Roldan had any technical ability? Alejandro Bedoya and Will Bruin each committed one foul in the match.

The Sounders did play twice in the week though and in their midweek match they got a solid 1-0 win against the Houston Dynamo thanks to a goal by the aforementioned Roldan. This is a solid goal and what Roldan lacks in comparison to Aaronson in terms of doing flashy things with the ball he makes up for with long range shooting (and running a lot).

Will Bruin committed three fouls in 17 minutes off of the bench in the match.

Mercifully MLS will only have one midweek game this week so next time I’ll tell you how Brian White did for the Red Bulls.