Chris Wondolowski won Major League Soccer's most valuable player award Thursday to become the first Earthquake to ever receive the prestigious prize.
But as he had done throughout the season the Danville native credited teammates for his ability to score 27 goals, which tied the MLS single-season record set by Roy Lassiter in 1996.
"It's really a team award," Wondolowski said in a teleconference. "So many guys played an integral part of it."
The striker didn't think he played better this year than the previous two seasons, in which he led MLS in scoring. But had more success because of the way the Quakes worked as a unit.
"We played to a lot of my strengths," Wondolowski said. "Everything came together at the right time."
The 2012 Golden Boot winner as the league's top scorer was named MVP in a lopsided vote by the clubs, players and media over finalists Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls and Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City. All three were named to MLS' Best XI team earlier in the week. Wondolowski finished with a weighted total of 259.03 votes, to 14.49 for Henry and 6.64 for Zusi. The Quakes star received 91 percent of the club vote, 97 percent from media and 71 percent from players.
The Quakes star, who doesn't have an agent, expects to get a new contract after his spectacular season. Although nothing has been decided, he said "I'd be very surprised if both sides aren't happy."
Wondolowski, 29, also
Wondolowski, a De La Salle High graduate who was not recruited to play Division 1 college soccer, had one of the greatest offensive seasons in MLS history in 2012. Beyond his 27 goals he also had a career-best seven assists in helping the Quakes win the Supporters' Shield title with a 19-6-9 record.
His favorite moment?
"The one against the L.A. Galaxy at Stanford," Wondolowski said without hesitation.
The forward scored the game winner off a corner kick in the 61st minute in the sold-out match at Stanford Stadium as the Quakes rallied to overcome their chief rival 4-3.
Wondolowski became a bona fide star this year. The one-time journeyman forward is the first player to score more than 60 goals over three consecutive seasons. Wondolowski also is the first player to lead the league in goals three years in a row.
The player has no idea how difficult it will be to chase his own goals' record but made it clear he is far from satisfied with the 2012 season because the Earthquakes got knocked out of the MLS Cup playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals.
"We don't like having this bitter taste in our mouths," he said. "It will be difficult" to repeat the success, but "I still can chase, I'm chasing Roy Lassiter."
The former Chico State star also became the Earthquakes' all-time leading goal scorer (64 goals in 74 appearances) this season.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.