Toronto FC is looking for goals. San Jose has Major League Soccer's goal king.
Shut out in three of its last four matches, Toronto (5-5-2) hasn't scored in 219 minutes. And the man who scored the last goal, Alejandro Pozuelo, is suspended for Sunday's match against San Jose.
The visiting Earthquakes (4-6-2), meanwhile, boast goals galore in Chris Wondolowski. The 36-year-old striker scored all four goals in a 4-1 win over Chicago last Saturday, surpassing Landon Donovan's league record of 145 while upping his career total to 148.
To put that figure in perspective, Toronto as a franchise has 529 league goals.
"He's very, very clever," said Toronto coach Greg Vanney. "They call him the fox in the box and that's him ... he's a true finisher."
"If he's on the field, one of the key things is you can't take him for granted ever," he added. "And you always have to have not just an eye on him but a presence on him, because he'll slip away. When defenders end up watching the ball, he'll find a gap. And he's got a knack for anticipation for where the ball's going to arrive."
Wondolowski demonstrated that with his record-breaking goal. Quakes winger Cristian Espinoza sent in a cross that was grabbed and then promptly dropped by Chicago 'keeper David Ousted. Wondolowski was Johnny-on-the-spot in the six-yard box, poking the ball in with his left foot.
"He's always in the right place in the right time," said Toronto defender Drew Moor.
The opportunistic goal also tied Wondolowski with Donovan for most game-winners at 41.
Not bad for a player picked in the fourth round — 41st overall — in the 2005 MLS supplemental draft, which followed the league's four-round SuperDraft.
Only five of his goals have come from outside the penalty box. The 15-year veteran has scored 81 goals with his left foot, 38 with his right foot, 28 with his head and one with another body part, according to MLS.
Nine of his goals have come against Toronto (in 14 games).
Twenty-five of his goals have come from penalty kicks. Some 102 were from open play, with 38 coming on crosses and 10 on rebounds. A further 21 were scored off set pieces (15 on corner kicks, six from free kick service).
With a salary of US$800,000 last year, Wondolowski ranked second to Georgia international midfielder Valeri (Vako) Qazaishvili's $1.325 million on San Jose's payroll. He would have ranked sixth among Toronto players in 2018.
"Wondo, first and foremost, he's a competitor," said Toronto fullback Justin Morrow who played with Wondolowski at San Jose. "And that's not only on game day, it's every single day ... In small-sided games (in training), his team tends to win a lot."
Toronto is coming off a gruelling stretch of five games in 15 days. It opened with a 2-0 win in Orlando but went winless the next four games (0-3-1) when it was outscored 7-1.
On the plus side, star striker Jozy Altidore is expected to start Sunday after seeing just 63 minutes of action in two stints off the bench over the last six games due to injury.
Toronto needs his offence. After picking up 10 of 12 points to start the season (3-0-1 start to the season), it has collected just seven of a possible 24 (2-5-1).
"We've created a fair amount of chances in this last stretch but we didn't necessarily put anything in the back of the net," said Vanney.
While Pozuelo will be missing this week, the Spanish playmaker and Altidore have proved to be a potent combination with 10 goals and eight assists between them this season.
Vanney still sees a hole in his roster, saying the squad needs "a dynamic, wide attacking forward."
"A guy who is offensive-minded who's looking to get behind teams, who is like a second forward but playing from a wider position."
His rationale is simple. Some MLS teams treat fullback as a budget position, so it's a good place to attack. Vanney also knows that stretching defences will help create space for Altidore and Pozuelo.
"I think Nick (DeLeon) has done a solid job but we're not going to be able to ride Nick for a ton of games. We need more guys who can do that ... For me that's a really important piece that we've got to try and lock down soon."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-6-2) AT TORONTO FC (5-5-2)
Sunday, BMO Field
HISTORY SAYS: Toronto has won the last four meetings at BMO Field, including a 4-0 victory last September last time out.
FORM GUIDE: Toronto in winless in four (0-3-1) while San Jose has lost just once in its last six (3-1-2). But the Quakes have yet to win on the road this season (0-3-2).
QUAKES STYLE: Under former Argentine international Matias Almeyda, San Jose plays what Vanney calls a "personal in their marking" style.
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