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LAFC need to beware “Wondo Watch” against the San Jose Earthquakes

Striker on the verge of MLS history.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Let me say off the top that I am an unequivocal fan of Chris Wondolowski. The guy is one of the best rags-to-riches stories in MLS history, a late bloomer whose consistency for a decade has been impressive. I think the abuse the guy gets outside the Bay Area is largely unwarranted, and his impressive body of work somehow remains under the radar leaguewide.

However, Wondolowski is gunning for the all-time MLS top scorer title. He’s only one goal off tying Landon Donovan, in fact, so he’s just two goals from taking the mantle himself. “Wondo Watch” is on.

And that’s going to be a concern to an extent for Los Angeles Football Club, who travel to San Jose to take on the Quakes on Saturday afternoon. Of course, the big story coming in will be LAFC looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2019 season, while the Earthquakes will be looking to win their first competitive game of the season.

But with Wondo unable to get off the mark so far this season, the pressure ratchets up, and now here we are, with LAFC able to play a role in history, but on the wrong side of it.

San Jose are a flawed team, possibly the least talented roster in MLS, but they have a new manager in Matias Almeyda, who hasn’t hid the need for a cleanout of the roster. While San Jose’s last manager, Mikael Stahre, was talked up before he laid a complete egg and didn’t last a full season last year, Almeyda actually has a track record of success and his style of play — where opponents are man-marked all over the field, leading to a sight that looks like a combination of chaos and mostly just defense.

It’s a look that LAFC will prepare for, no doubt, but it’s an approach that for now is unique in MLS. Expect Almeyda’s group to stop LAFC’s attack using any means necessary, and it’s likely to be a tight, unflowing game if the Quakes get their way.

But in two of their three games this season, San Jose have scored first, usually on a “jailbreak” play of sorts. Sure, they lost in the end, but they found some early success before it fell apart. And that’s what LAFC need to be wary of — the moment of opening, when the Earthquakes pounce before LAFC even know what has happened.

And in all of this is the threat of Wondolowski. He’s been quiet this year but it’s only a matter of time until he gets that tying goal, and then the record-breaker. Even with a poor start for the Quakes so far this season, LAFC will have their work cut out for them to prevent Wondo from making history on Saturday, at their expense.

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