Can Chris Wondolowski Make a Difference for the USMNT?

Source: Noah Salzman / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) has one of the most difficult groups in this summer’s World Cup, paired as it is with Ghana, Portugal, and Germany. Germany has top-level pedigree and is (as always) a pre-tournament favorite. Portugal currently boasts the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, who can finish a team off with five seconds of brilliance even when the opposition knows exactly what he is going to do. Meanwhile, Ghana is arguably the best current African team and has been a thorn in the USA’s side during the past two World Cups.

With the team’s 23-man roster decided well before FIFA’s June 2 deadline, there is one name on the list that we’re eyeing: Chris Wondolowski.

Wondolowski, a forward, is considered a late bloomer by many American soccer fans. The 31-year-old has spent his entire professional career in the MLS, splitting time between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Houston Dynamo. He was never in the national team conversation until the end of the 2010 MLS season, when he scored 18 goals.

Fast forward to May 2014, and Wondolowski is going to Brazil. He’s going to be under a lot of scrutiny because he is the only striker who has not plied his trade in Europe at some point in his career. Some people say he shouldn’t even be on the final roster because he lacks the pedigree of the other forwards. Six months ago, we would have agreed with them.