Oh, how quickly things can change. Less than two weeks ago, Chris Wondolowski was the newest star on the U.S. Men’s National Team after scoring five goals in the first two games of the 2013 Gold Cup, including a hat trick against Belize. But after being held scoreless and being subbed out of the Americans’ last two Gold Cup matches, it’s apparent that Wondolowski still has a lot to prove.
Wondolowski failed to score a goal in his first nine appearances with the national team, giving him a lot to prove heading into the Gold Cup, but he finally broke through with a goal in a friendly against Guatemala prior to the Gold Cup. Then, after scoring five goals in the next two games, Wondolowski looked like a lock to be added to the full national team when 2014 World Cup qualifying starts up again, but talk of that has cooled after he’s gone scoreless in the last two matches.
During the Gold Cup, Wondolowski has proven himself capable of scoring against teams like Belize and Cuba, but when the competition kicked up a notch, Wondolowski has no longer been able to find the back of the net. If he couldn’t score in Gold Cup matches against Costa Rica and El Salvador, it’s unlikely that Wondolowski will be able to score in World Cup qualifying matches.
Meanwhile, Eddie Johnson has been added to the Gold Cup roster and made an immediate impact, scoring against El Salvador seconds after replacing Wondolowski as a substitute. Johnson’s immediate impact and profound contributions in the Americans’ win over El Salvador illustrate how far Wondolowski lags behind him on the international level, as well as how far Wondolowski still has to go to prove himself in international play.
Of course, the last two games aren’t necessarily more meaningful than the two games before that. Wondolowski has made himself a bigger blip on Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar during the Gold Cup with regards to next summer’s World Cup. He was a great catalyst as a substitute in the game against Cuba, which is a role he could fit into well going forward, so there is still plenty of hope for Wondolowski’s future with the national team.
Wondolowski still has two more games left in the Gold Cup to help his standing with the national side. But from what he’s shown in the tournament thus far, he still has a long way to go and a lot to prove before he should be considered a regular on the team and a player who can help them next summer in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.