Chris Wondolowski

Chris Wondolowski Q&A: Earthquakes star could play one more MLS season

Chris Wondolowski Q&A: Earthquakes star could play one more MLS season

Chris Wondolowski is a local treasure. 

Raised in Danville, the striker began his MLS career with San Jose in 2005, and even returned in 2009 after the previous version of the franchise moved to Houston.

Last year, Wondolowski became the league’s all-time leading goal scorer, only made more special by the fact that at 13 years old, he attended the very first MLS match, which just happened to be in San Jose.

NBC Sports California caught up with “Wondo” via FaceTime on Wednesday. 

How does a shortened or canceled MLS season affect what Wondolowski was planning to be his last?
“That’s a very good question. I ran scenarios through my head about how this season was going to go. I thought I hit the best, and the worst. But I did not see this coming, that’s for sure. I would like to leave the door cracked, I guess. This isn’t really how I want to go out.”

On the little-known truth that Wondolowski uses pick-up basketball to stay in shape during the offesasons:
“The jumper is OK. I’m great on the fast-break, and I can “d-up” pretty well. The jumper is all right, I’m more of a Sean Livingston game. More of a facilitator, 3pointers aren’t my strong point.”

On Earthquakes coach Matías Almeyda surprising everyone by shaving his long hair completely off this week:
“I did not see that coming. He had some nice flowing locks and, was very proud fo them. And I thought they’d be there for a little bit. It took me by shock. We were able to send a couple texts, but he’s all about it. Good mustache though, too.

On his experience last September of being suspended for one home match, and watching it from the stands with the Ultras:
“I’ve always said If I wasn’t playing, that’s where I’d be anyways. I do love the game and love this club, and feel that I am one of them, an Ultra. It’s crazy. I didn’t think I knew the songs but all of a sudden, they start singing and I know them all right away.”

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On holding the MLS all-time goal record, and how long it will stand:
“I do hope that it gets smashed, that it’s not even close. So that I’m not thinking about that one [more]  goal I would have liked to get. The other one is that I hope it’s a cool name who gets to pass me. I got to pass Landon Donovan, so I feel horrible for him, because it’s me.”

What separates Steph Curry as favorite among all Bay Area MVP athletes

What separates Steph Curry as favorite among all Bay Area MVP athletes

Bay Area sports fans have been blessed with an abundance of MVPs in their own backyard.

Since the Giants moved to San Francisco from New York, a member of the team has won the MVP award 10 separate times. The A's haven't been as individually dominant, but they've won four MVP awards during their tenure in Oakland.

The 49ers have accounted for five MVP awards, while the Raiders have two to their name -- not including the one Marcus Allen won while in Los Angeles. The Warriors have two, while the Kings are still looking for their first. Both San Jose teams -- the Sharks and the Earthquakes -- each have one.

Yep, there has been no shortage of historic individual performances on Bay Area teams. Several of them currently exist as one of the standard-bearers in their respective sports. But, it begs the question: Which individual Bay Area MVP stands above the rest? How would one even decide?

Well, allow me to take a shot at it.

NBC Sports Bay Area compiled eight former Bay Area MVPs in a tweet Saturday, asking fans to choose their favorite in a "March Madness"-esque bracket. Some head-to-head battles were easier to decide than others, and arriving at an overall winner was like splitting hairs.

For the first round, let's start in the top right corner and work clockwise.

Curry vs. Wondo:

Apologies to Mr. Wondolowski, but this was the easiest choice of them all. The MLS' all-time leader in goals scored brought home the only MVP award in Earthquakes franchise history back in 2012 when he scored 27 goals across 32 matches in leading San Jose to the championship.

Those are fantastic, MVP numbers. But they're not worthy of being unanimous.

There has been only one unanimous MVP throughout the history of the NBA, and his name is Steph Curry. He won it in 2015-16 after producing arguably the most impressive season by a guard in the history of the league -- which one-upped the MVP award he won the prior season.

Wondo will go down as one of the best scorers in MLS history. Curry literally changed the way the game is played, and did something no other MVP ever had.

Bonds vs. Thornton:

One guy was ridiculously left off the league's list of the top 100 players in the sport. The other is the most prolific power hitter in the history of baseball, and yet still somehow undeserving of the Hall of Fame. Baloney.

Joe Thornton has been overlooked and underappreciated throughout much of his career, but that was impossible to do when the Sharks acquired him in a trade with the Boston Bruins during the 2005-06 season. His sheer talent lifted the entire team as soon as he arrived, as Thornton led San Jose to the playoffs and was named the league's MVP after totaling a career-high 96 assists and 125 points.

While Thornton absolutely deserved to be named MVP that season, it remains the only one he has ever won. Barry Bonds, meanwhile, won five with the Giants -- in addition to the two he won with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Advantage: Bonds.

Mays vs. Young:

This one's tough.

Steve Young won two MVP awards in a span of three years, and might have won more had he not been stuck behind Joe Montana (we'll get to him in a moment) for the first part of his career. His mobility and passing accuracy were a deadly combination, particularly with the greatest player in NFL history, Jerry Rice, on the other end of many of his passes.

Young is one of the greatest players in 49ers history. But he's not on the shortlist of the best ever to play his sport.

The same can't be said for Willie Mays. A prototype for the modern five-tool player, there wasn't any weakness in his game. In addition to being a two-time MVP (although only one came in San Francisco), Mays was a 24-time All-Star and 12-time Gold Glove winner. His legendary over-the-head catch at the Polo Grounds remains one of the greatest individual plays in the history of baseball.

Mays advances, though Young got unlucky with the bracket.

Montana vs. Henderson:

Rickey Henderson won the MVP in 1990, and was liable to steal any others that were left hanging around. Despite retiring following the 2003 season, Henderson's 1,406 career stolen bases are still 468 more than his closest competitor. But he wasn't all speed, clearly. The season he won the MVP, he tied a career-high with 28 home runs. He literally led the A's to the World Series that season, where they fell short and were eventually swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

Joe Montana was named the NFL's MVP in back-to-back seasons in 1989 and 1990, both of which culminated in the 49ers winning the Super Bowl. For that reason, Joe Cool advances.

The Final Four

Curry vs. Bonds

Holy moly. This one is impossible.

Both Curry and Bonds revolutionized their respective sports. During their MVP seasons, both struck more fear into the hearts of their opponents than any other player in the league. Bonds made splash hits into McCovey Cove a thing. Curry literally splashed his way into the NBA record books. In terms of sheer talent and prominence, I'd argue both Curry and Bonds belong on the Bay Area's Mount Rushmore.

But ...

Despite his best efforts, Bonds was never able to push the Giants over the top. He came very close, but that damn rally monkey ...

Not only did the Warriors win a championship in one of Curry's MVP seasons, but he will forever be the poster child for ushering in a completely new -- and successful -- era of Golden State basketball.

Curry advances to the finals.

Montana vs. Mays

Legend versus legend. San Francisco icon against San Francisco icon. Talk about a toss-up.

From an individual statistic standpoint, Mays might be the pick. But he never won a World Series in San Francisco. In fact, when he won the MVP in 1968, the rival Dodgers won it all. Yuck.

Winning is fun, and it matters -- and Montana did a lot of it. Those Lombardi trophies talk.

Montana to the finals.

The Finals

Curry vs. Montana

Like I said, splitting hairs. When you get this far down the line and are forced to choose between such legendary players, there's no wrong answer.

And yet ...

Montana left the 49ers. Granted, it wasn't entirely his choice, but he finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, and that left a sour taste in many fans' mouths. 

Curry is the Warriors' homegrown savior. He personifies the franchise's transition from laughingstock to perennial contender, and breathed basketball life into a region that had been subsisting off life support for oh so long. While nothing is written in stone, here's betting that Curry remains a Warrior for life.

That shouldn't be the deciding factor in this bracket, but with so many great Bay Area MVPs to choose from, you've got to draw the line somehow.

Favorite Bay Area MVP: Steph Curry

Which is your favorite? Make your voice heard, and respond on Twitter.

Earthquakes sign MLS goal king Chris Wondolowski to new contract

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USATSI

Earthquakes sign MLS goal king Chris Wondolowski to new contract

The Earthquakes will remain home to one of their own.

The team announced Tuesday that it had signed Chris Wondolowski to a new contract. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

"I'm very excited to be back for one more year," Wondolowski said in a statement released by the team. "Knowing how much fun it is in the locker room, the team unity that we have and where this team is going, I wanted to be a part of it. I love this game. I love going out to practice. We're a family. Even right now, it's nice to have a couple days off, but I'm ready to get started again.

"When I do decide to step away from the game, my goal is to remain a part of the Earthquakes organization and help the team any way I can."

The 36-year-old Danville native holds nearly every MLS scoring record, with most career goals (159), goals for one club (155), game-winning goals (44) and consecutive seasons with 10-plus goals (10).

Wondolowski's 15 team-best goals this past season was tied for fifth most in MLS and were the most by an American-born player in 2019.

Wondolowski was selected by the Earthquakes in the fourth round of the 2005 Supplement Draft, and he moved to Houston as part of the team's relocation in 2006. That year, the Houston Dynamo won the MLS Cup championship, then repeated in 2007.

Wondolowski returned to San Jose in 2009 as part of a player swap for Cam Weaver. It's considered one of the most successful trades in league history, and you see why when you glance at Wondolowski's numbers.

"It's impossible to fully explain all the ways Chris is devoted to this club," Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in the team-issued statement. "He truly embraces a bigger cause, well beyond the goals he scores and the records he breaks. Wondo has an unparalleled love for the game and the Quakes organization as a whole, and this is a great day for our fans and our club."