Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shrader's Spin: An Unlikely Partnership

May 7, 2010: An Unlikely Partnership

They are the most unlikely of scoring duos. They weren’t even a duo until the third week of the season, a partnership created out of necessity. And they’ve helped the Quakes win three of four, outscoring their opponents 9-3, and doing their best to assist the defensive effort in three shutouts.

Ryan Johnson and Chris Wondolowski. What were the odds? These two guys, a forward tandem? And the man they call Wondo is the third-leading scorer in the league. He has now scored in a team-record four-consecutive games.

And who knows how long it lasts? To use a surfing metaphor, the Quakes will ride this wave as long as they can.

Johnson and Wondolowski are keeping guys like proven MLS scorers Cornell Glen and Scott Sealy on the bench, and doing a whole lot to overcome the absence of Arturo Alvarez, who it seems was just about to bust out before a hamstring injury sidelined him three weeks ago.

It’s all about the depth on this team now. It was a major focus of General Manager John Doyle and Coach Frank Yallop in the off-season.

“This is one of the deepest teams I’ve ever been a part of,” Wondolowski said. “When you have guys pushing you, it makes you better.”

Johnson, too, says the competition is good for everybody, “It keeps everybody hungry,” he says. “It keeps everybody on their toes.”

Wondolowski says all the talent on this team, “makes you want to work harder, to stay longer, to try to improve as much as you can.”

Through seven weeks of the season (the Quakes have two games in hand on many of the teams in the league) only two players have more goals than Wondo, Galaxy’s Edson Buddle (9) and Toronto’s Dwayne DeRosario, (6).

“He’s as good as any forward we have here, including me,” Johnson says of his forward partner. “It’s just that he took (advantage of) his opportunities, and he’s putting them away. He deserves every goal he’s getting because he works just as hard as everyone.”

Johnson led the Quakes with 11 goals last year, and he finally got on in the back of the net, against the Red Bulls in their 4-0 win last Saturday.

Johnson also had two assists in that game, and now has four assists to go along with his one goal this season. Johnson may have played in his best all around game, against New York. He was holding the ball, passing it deftly and keeping his defensive position. [New York played a man down for about 75 minutes of the game.]

These guys are raising their game and a whole lot of eyebrows early in this 2010 season.

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