The San Jose Earthquakes announced Tuesday that the club has signed forward Chris Wondolowski to a new contract, making the Danville native the second Designated Player in club history. Per league and team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed but the deal is believed to be four years and worth $600,000.
"I'm very excited right now," Wondolowski said via conference call with the media Tuesday as he and the rest of the Quakes prepare for the Major League Soccer opener March 3 against Real Salt Lake. "It's a huge honor to sign the contract and to show that you're wanted here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I love the organization. I love where they're headed, the coaching staff is unbelieveable and I love them. But especially the guys in the locker room; that's what makes it fun and worthwhile."
Wondolowski, 30, is the reigning Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player after tying the league record for goals in a season with 27 in 2012. He has led the league in goals for three consecutive years, earning three MLS Best XI selections in the process. The two-time MLS All-Star is also the all-time league leader in goals per 90 minutes among players with at least 100 appearances with a 0.64 clip.
The new deal keeps Wondolowski in San Jose for at least three more seasons with a club option for a fourth. The fourth year becomes guaranteed if the forward reaches certain goals or milestones, according to Wondolowski who represented himself in the contrct negotiations.
"I'm just really excited that it shows that the team wants me here because the team wants me here," Wondolowski said. "That's the part I'm the most excited about. They've rewarded me for a couple good years and I'm hoping I can repay them with a couple more good years. I think that's the main message."
Following breakout campaigns in 2010 and 2011, Wondolowski compiled one of the best seasons ever by an MLS player in 2012 and was rewarded with the Volkswagen MLS MVP. He also took home the Budweiser Golden Boot and was an MLS Best XI selection. Wondolowski scored 27 goals and more than doubled his career high in assists with seven to lead his club to their second Supporters' Shield trophy. His goal total tied an MLS mark that has stood since the league's inaugural season in 1996. He also broke the MLS record for game-winning goals with 11, two more than the previous mark held by himself and LA's Carlos Ruiz.
Wondolowski is the all-time club leader in goals (64) and game-winning goals (26). He also holds the MLS mark for goals in a three-year span (61).
Wondolowski becomes only the third American to get the Designated Player label -- of the 57 in MLS history. He joins Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu.
"I definitely hope that continues to be the trend because I feel like those are the players that are making it and proving themselves," Wondolowski said. "Sometimes the league has been a bit quick to give foreign players DP money that aren't quite accustomed to the league. Those (domestic) players are the ones that drive the league."
Wondolowski burst onto the scene in 2010, scoring a goal in each of his first four appearances after beginning the season fifth on the depth chart at forward. He capped that memorable season with 10 goals in the club's last eight games to lead the Earthquakes to their first MLS Cup Playoff appearance since rejoining the league in 2008. He also surpassed LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle in the final week of the regular season to earn the Budweiser Golden Boot. Wondolowski's 18 goals accounted for 52.9 percent of San Jose's season total, the second-largest percentage in MLS history.
In 2011, Wondolowski would repeat his success with a league-leading 16 goals and his first U.S. Men's National Team appearance. His first cap came on Jan. 22, 2011 against Chile. To date, Wondolowski has made nine appearances for the USMNT, the most recent of which was a Jan. 29, 2013 start against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
"I really don't feel any more pressure," Wondolowski said about his raise affecting his on-field play. "I always put pressure on myself. To be honest, it's like playing with house money because I've been in the situation and the one that's real pressure is the guy that doesn't play on a regular basis and gets his one opportunity. That's where the real pressure is. I have confidence in my ability and the team's ability. I think we're hitting our stride and we're where we want to be heading into the season."