The 2014 MLS Season is now two short weeks away from starting, and there is no doubting that fans around the U.S. are scrambling to put together their fantasy teams. For those fans who are seriously about winning, I recommend that you don’t pick up San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski.
From 2010 to 2012, there was no better striker in MLS than Wondolowski as he compiled 18, 16 and 27 goals in those three seasons. Despite not being blessed with exceptional pace, technical ability or aerial ability, the striker simply willed his way to scoring through a mix of smart runs and great positional awareness. It seemed that he was always attempting to make a genius run behind the last defender, was available to poach a goal in the six-yard box, or was throwing his body after balls in the box.
Unfortunately, the 2013 season saw a sharp decline down in his production to only 11 goals in 29 games started, which was a gross underperformance and coincided with San Jose scoring a disappointing 35 goals in 34 games. And while Wondolowski was still as gritty and hardworking as ever, the 31-year-old will continue to struggle during the 2014 season.
The reason for this is actually more because of the fact that San Jose is in a bit of disarray as the Earthquakes simply don’t have guys that can be relied on to consistently create chances for Wondolowski. Up front, the forward will be playing alongside a guy that is solely a target player in either Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart or Atiba Harris, and none of these guys can be relied upon to play the type balls that Wondolowski needs to be successful.
Playing on a team that is a bit of a jumbled puzzle is not a good situation for Wondolowski, as he is extremely reliant on the play of those around him to score goals. When you combine this grim outlook with the fact that the 31-year-old could very well miss between 4-6 games in the middle of the season because of the 2014 World Cup, and you have a guy that is shaping up to be a disappointment for the 2014 MLS fantasy season.
The absolute ceiling for Wondolowski during the current season will be 15 goals, although it appears more likely that he finishes between nine and 12 on the season, especially if he goes to Brazil. When you combine this relatively mediocre goal total with the fact that the forward isn’t much of a threat in the assist category (his career-high for a single season is seven), you have a guy who is grossly overvalued at $9.5 million.
Look for him to get between 80 and 95 points on the season, and for those that pick him at current value to be cursing at their computers throughout the season.