Final, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Chris Wondolowski has joined Roy Lassiter atop MLS’ all-time single-season goal scoring list.
His first-half goal gave him 27 on the season, matching Lassiter’s magical mark. He was unable to break the record, but the feat remains an impressive one.
Wondolowski spoke about sharing company with some of the best strikers to ever grace MLS. He called himself a “student of the game” before rattling off their names.
It was a very MLS moment spoken by a symbol of what the league is all about: giving American players a chance to make a career playing professional soccer at home — if that’s what they want to do.
92nd minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Stephenson sends a cross into the area for Wondo, but the joint-holder of the record is called for a foul.
90th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: We’re headed for stoppage time. The score is tied and the record is tied. There will be three minutes of added time.
82nd minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: We’re into the final 10 minutes of the contest.
If Wondo is going to make history, it will be done in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Wondolowski might be implementing a shoot-on-sight policy. He has a go from distance but it flies very high and very wide.
One onlooker said it best:
— Matthew Doyle (@MLS_Analyst) October 28, 2012
68th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: It’s worth noting that Khari Stephenson, he of Williams College fame, has entered the game in place of Lenhart.
He’s got the physical presence to match Lenhart, but he lacks the “by any means necessary” type of commitment to doing whatever it takes to win that Lenhart has.
That’s no knock against him. Few people in any walk of life are willing to go to Lenhart’s lengths to get something done. Whatever it may be.
67th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Dike scores for Portland. It’s 1-1 and this game has kicked up a few notches.
65th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Wondo’s got two quick chances here in the second half.
First he hits a left-footed drive to the far post from a tight angle. Ricketts saved it away.
Seconds later, he headed a cross just wide of the near post. He should have at least hit the target.
62nd minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: It’s Lenhart who finishes a San Jose counterattack with a shot at Ricketts.
Baca created the opening by finding Lenhart with a pass into the Portland area from the San Jose half.
It’s the sort of opening we may see again as Portland is committed to sending men forward and there will be space to exploit.
54th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Portland has controlled the first 10 minutes of the second half, and most of the game has bent spent in the Earthquakes’ third of the field.
Portland, the home team, will look to push players forward in search of the tying goal — not the one that will tie Wondolowski’s 27, but the one that will tie the score 1-1.
47th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: The second half is under way, and Wondo has done what the likes of Stern John and Mamadou Diallo could not. That is hit the magical 27 mark.
He didn’t even need Carlos Valderrama and a young Steve Ralston providing him service to do it either.
Halftime, Wondolowski on 27 goals: That’s the end of the first half of play, and Wondolowski is on the brink of history.
His first-half goal tied Lassiter’s mark. It was his seventh penalty-kick goal of the season.
43rd minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Portland’s David Horst intervenes at the last minute to deny Wondolowski a good look at goal.
Wondolowski beat the offside trap as Morrow sent a pass over the top of the defense. He brought it down and set himself to shoot, but Horst tracked him down, slid and knocked it away.
40th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: San Jose showed its menacing teeth again, as Lenhart led the counterattack.
Portland repelled the first delivery into the area, but San Jose kept the pressure on the hosts.
Wondolowski was buzzing around the area, but Portland was able to reset its defense.
33rd minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: We have to give it to the San Jose striker. He’s not content to float around the penalty area and pounce on something when it comes his way.
He’s involved in his team’s build-up play, serving as an outlet for his teammates and holding up the ball very well so others can come into the play.
24th minute, Wondolowski on 27 goals: Wondolowski buries the spot-kick with a low shot to Ricketts’ right.
It’s his 27th of the season, putting him level with Lassiter.
He celebrates by beating the Earthquakes’ crest on his jersey, while Timbers’ fans let their displeasure at the penalty be known.
23rd minute: It’s a penalty for San Jose. Portland goalkeeper Donovan Rickets was caught off his line and he brings Lenhart down.
Wondo will take it.
17th minute: The game is played under the backdrop of the wall of sound that the Portland fans have created.
The setting is fit for the occasion. A top MLS player, one who’s spent his entire career in the league, visits the home of a model MLS team in the post-Beckham era. He’s looking to pass a mark set by a member of the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Remember them?
14th minute: Wondolowski has his first moment of danger, as he nearly gets on the end of a corner kick in the Portland area.
Eric Alexander headed a shot wide, but Wondolowski was sneaking in behind him. He surely would have knocked it in had Alexander not been there. The goal was open and he was standing right at the back post.
Second minute: San Jose, the ultimate no-frills MLS franchise, has lead the way for most of the season.
Manager Frank Yallop built a team full of hungry youngsters, capable MLS veterans and impact foreign signings.
It almost mirrors the stages of Wondolowski’s career. He rose from five and a half years in the shadows to become the most lethal goal scorer in the league.
San Jose stands in start contrast to Portland, which boasts an always full stadium, scrutiny from a rabid fan base, designated players and plenty of buzz in the community. One thing it lacks is an MLS playoff victory. That won’t change for at least another 12 months, as the Timbers are on the outside looking in.
Kickoff: And we’re off. Wondo is wearing the captain’s armband, as Ramiro Corrales is out with an injury.
Pregame: Wondolowski will start next to the mop-haired Steven Lenhart, who is very good at creating openings for Wondo with his physical presence and sheer force of will.
Wondolowski and Lassiter talked about the chase last week.
They’ve kept Wondolowski’s goals within the context of San Jose’s pursuit of the Supporters Shield. Now that the Quakes have locked up the regular-season title, it’s fitting that we can focus on Wondo’s remarkable season that should see him walk away with the league MVP award and perhaps much more.
6 p.m.: We’ve arrived here in Wondo’s world, and we’re ready to see if the San Jose hitman can break the MLS all-time single-season scoring record.
This is a new kind of live blog here on NESN.com. Whereas we usually follow live games, we’ll focus specifically on Wondolowski’s chase for the record in this one. We hope you enjoy it and tell us what you think — either in the comments section below or on Twitter at #magicWondo.
8 a.m. ET: Major League Soccer has grown by leaps and bounds since its inaugural season in 1996, but one thing was frozen in time.
That year, “Rocket” Roy Lassiter led the league with 27 goals. It became a single-season record, as many tried and failed to reach that number in the following years.
Chris Wondolowski can break Lassiter’s record. The San Jose Earthquakes striker has bagged 26 goals in 2012, and now stands on the brink of history. If he scores twice in San Jose’s final regular season game he will set a new standard in American soccer.
The Earthqukes, winners of this season’s Supporters Shield, visit the Portland Timbers on Saturday, and all eyes will be on the man they call “Wondo.” The 29-year-old has powered a San Jose attack which leads the league in goals. If there are holes in Portland’s defense — the third worst in MLS — it’s likely Wondolowski will find them.
We’ll be watching, as Wondolowski’s chase reaches its dramatic conclusion. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the game to a national audience, so you can too. Tell us what you think about Wondo’s chase before during and after the game using #magicWondo on Twitter. We’ll bring you live, in-game updates from Wondo’s world. Will he? Or won’t
he? We’ll soon find out.
Join us for our coverage of Wondolowski’s record chase starting at 6 p.m.
Photo via The Bay Area Bias