Sports Illustrated's soccer guru Grant Wahl, citing a source close to the negotiations, reported last night that MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski has signed a new contract with the San Jose Earthquakes that makes him a Designated Player. Earlier today, the club confirmed the details of the new contract that makes Wondolowski only the fourth U.S. player since the rule went into effect in 2007 to earn DP status.
In what has become an annual tradition at preseason camp, Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes have reached a new contract agreement. According to a report in Sports Illustrated, this year's reward for the prolific forward is a doubling of his salary to $600,000 and a bump up to Designated Player status.
Wondolowski is coming off one of the best MLS seasons ever in terms of offensive output. The 2012 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner scored 27 goals for the Earthquakes, tying the mark set by Roy Lassiter in the inaugural season of the league. His exploits were part of a record setting Quakes team that amassed a franchise record 72 goals on their way to capturing the 2012 Supporters' Shield.
The Earthquakes confirmed that Wondolowski has received a four-year contract, with the first three years being guaranteed. Wondolowski himself revealed that the fourth year of the contract would also be guaranteed if he met "certain milestones" on the field. These terms would be in line with the new contracts the Earthquakes club leading scorer has signed each of the past three off-seasons. Wondolowski will turn 33-years of age after the guaranteed years are completed, but the forward has had a remarkably healthy career to date and is one of the leading minutes earners on San Jose.
Wondolowski, with his new contract, becomes the second Designated Player in franchise history. In the summer of 2010, the Earthquakes made Brazilian midfielder Geovanni their first DP. At the time the EPL veteran signed with San Jose, Wondolowski was reportedly earning just $48,000 annually. His new contract will pay him over 12 times the amount he earned that season, his first of three straight years leading MLS in goals scored.
Since MLS instituted the DP rule, more colloquially known as "the David Beckham" rule, prior to the start of the 2007 season, only three other U.S. players have earned the status: Landon Donovan, Fredy Adu, and Claudio Reyna. And of those three, only Donovan ascended to DP status while a member of MLS. The DP rule was instituted as a way to bring in "big-name" international players in an effort to raise the entire profile of the league. However, Wondolowski's deal signals that perhaps domestic players will also be able to capitalize on the league's growing financial might.
Chris Wondolowski: leading his team on the field, and paving the way for his fellow countrymen off it.