Chris Wondolowski knows a thing or two about scoring goals in Major League Soccer.
The former USMNT striker found the net a record 171 times in 413 regular-season appearances, putting him 26 clear of his nearest challenger, Landon Donovan.
After retiring from playing last year, Wondolowski is now on the coaching staff at the San Jose Earthquakes. One man benefitting from his presence is Jeremy Ebobisse, who has nine goals this season to sit alongside fellow American Jesus Ferreira at the top of the MLS Golden Boot race.
“Obviously having the luxury of playing alongside Wondo [Chris Wondolowski] last year in training and sometimes in games was something that might have been beneficial to me or even earlier on in my career,” Ebobisse said of Wondolowski.
“Now to have him back on the coaching staff on the sidelines, involved day-to-day, allows for better rapport between the coaching staff and players in a way that few clubs really have just because he’s a former player that has relationships with all the guys.”
After spending over a decade with the Quakes as a player, you’d have forgiven Wondolowski for struggling to transition to coaching. Passing your knowledge to others and having increased authority with your interactions with players you were teammates with only months ago are challenges in their own right.
But Ebobisse has praised Wondolowski’s effect on the training field so far, outlining the specific ways he’s helping improve the San Jose forward line.
“But he still understands the coaching side of things now,” Ebobisse continued.
“That’s an asset for everyone at the club, and for myself, we’re always talking about striker positioning and movement, and the need to receive service.
“When I say service, it’s not always a cross or a final pass, but maybe it’s a ball in the buildup that you are touching, you are feeling a part of the game and a part of the team. By the time the ball does get in the final third, you know your teammates do want to find you.
“His messaging has been spot-on, the video and tactical work that he does with us leading into games is much needed, and he’s grown into the role in a great way.”