Chris Wondolowski’s send-off didn’t exactly go to plan.
The San Jose Earthquakes striker was a surprise starter during Tuesday night’s game against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park after Clint Dempsey was scratched for precautionary reasons just minutes before kickoff.
In the opening half, Wondolowksi had two opportunities to find the back of the net but failed to score on a couple of headers from close range. The Danville native wasn’t the only player who appeared to be a step off.
The US ended up winning 2-0 thanks to a couple of second-half strikes, but the squad definitely looked like one that hadn’t played a lot of minutes together, as central midfielder Michael Bradley explained.
“I think when you look around the field at the moment, we’re trying to develop good understandings.”
“Trying to work on things and make sure that now as we’re moving ourselves forward and getting closer to that first game against Ghana that now we feel like in all ways there’s just a real understanding of how to play together.”
Bradley did draw positives from the uninspiring showing against Azerbaijan.
“I think in a lot of ways the other night was really good for that and we’ll continue to work on that as we move forward.”
The veteran of the 2010 World Cup has plenty of confidence that Wondolowski can step in if Dempsey’s injury issues drag on.
“Chris is always going to find chances in any team that he plays in.”
“When there’s good things going on around him, he has a nose for the goal. He knows how to move inside the box and put defenders on their heels and slip into blind spots.”
Those poaching instincts were on display against the No. 85 team in the world, but the final products were lacking. Wondolowski’s next opportunity to demonstrate that he can put away those kind of chances will come on June 1 when the US takes on Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, Kickoff for the second game of the Send-Off Series is 11am.