San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski goes into Saturday’s matinee at Avaya Stadium needing just a goal to tie Landon Donovan’s regular-season record of 145, while Matias Almeyda, the Earthquakes’ new coach, will be chasing his first MLS win.
LAFC coach Bob Bradley, who gave Wondolowski his first appearance with the U.S. national team, said he’ll be more focused on stopping the coach than the player, willing to give up a goal in exchange for three points in the standings.
“Chris is a dangerous striker. Has a real knack for finding space in the box. We have great respect for that,” he said. “But we don’t prepare any differently.”
San Jose is 0-3 under Almeyda and has a league-worst goal differential of minus-7.
LAFC (3-0-1) traveled to San Jose on Friday without midfielders Andre Horta, who has a quadriceps injury, and Lee Nguyen, who will miss a second straight game with a calf issue. Bradley will get back midfielders Mark-Anthony Kaye and Peter-Lee Vassell and forward Christian Ramirez from international duty.
But while LAFC may not be concentrating on Wondolowski, the Earthquakes, who have likely grown tired of hearing about the record chase, would love nothing better than the get their teammate his first goal of the season while getting Almeyda his first win.
“We’ll definitely try,” forward Danny Hoesen said during a preseason that included a 3-0 win over LAFC in a game that featured a goal from Wondolowski. “Wondo’s a great guy. He’s done so much for this league and country.
“He’s so humble he doesn’t think about himself. We all want the best for him and to break this record Hopefully with as many goals as possible.