If there was an Olympic-style podium for the goal-scoring leaders of Major League Soccer so far this season, all three finalists would feature in Saturday's Week 6 match up between the New York Red Bulls and San Jose Earthquakes. Thierry Henry (7), Kenny Cooper (6) and San Jose's marksman Chris Wondolowski (6) have combined for a staggering 19 goals this season in five matches for each side. It's safe to say the goal-scoring race this season has clearly started as a sprint.
All three players are coming off braces on the weekend. Henry and Cooper had a brace apiece in New York's 4-1 win at Crew Stadium, while Wondolowski led the Quakes' second-half 3-1 comeback win over the Vancouver Whitecaps with two goals at Buck Shaw Stadium. As San Jose's president Dave Kaval noted, the league was treated to a Hunger Games inspired celebration from Wondolowski.
Cooper and Wondolowski may be tied with six each this season, but the Red Bulls striker has the upper hand on last year's runner-up in the Golden Boot race as far as career MLS goals are concerned. "Coop" tallied his 50th against Colorado and currently sits at 54 while "Wondo's" tally stands at 47.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe even sees some resemblance between one of his players and Wondolowski.
"He reminds me a little bit about Kenny Cooper, even if Chris is dropping more as a second striker getting involved around Lenhart," Backe said. "He's very, very good to find space for himself in the 18-yard box. If you look at the videos, he seems to be unmarked all the time. He's a clever player, and he's definitely one of the best goal scorers in this league."
Red Bulls' goalkeeper Ryan Meara, currently leading the league in saves (21), is also aware of Wondolowski's ability in front of goal, but he's confident his team can continue their winning ways.
"I know he's a goal scorer. The past couple of years, he led the league a year or two ago on goals, so we know we're going to have our hands full," Meara said. "We know we're going to have to be on our toes. It's going to be a tough game, but I think if we come out the way we've been playing, we'll be alright."
Meara's first career MLS shutout alluded him last match at Columbus after Crew defender Chad Marshall scored off a corner in the 89th minute, but he's confident heading into Saturday's clash knowing San Jose has never scored at Red Bull Arena in regular season play.
The Red Bulls and Earthquakes face off Saturday at 7pm on MSG+. Great seats starting at $20 are available by visiting Red Bulls Ticket Central or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER. Additionally, Red Bull Arena will host a Career Fair from 12pm to 3pm prior to kickoff. Those wishing to attend can gain access to the fair and a seat for the game later in the day with this special offer.