SAN JOSE -- Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski is embarrassed that he berated a teammate during the team's 1-1 tie last weekend against the Columbus Crew.
"It is not who I am, not what I want to portray," Wondolowski said Tuesday in addressing the incident with reporters for the first time.
The outburst came after second-year forward Sam Garza squandered a potential-game winning play when missing an open 15-yard shot.
Wondolowski had broken free of his defender and a simple service by Garza probably would have netted a goal with about 15 minutes left. Wondolowski, who tied a single-season record with 27 goals in 2012, screamed at Garza afterward.
Garza said Tuesday fans and media are making too much of the situation involving Major League Soccer's reigning MVP.
"Wondo is probably the most competitive guy I've ever played with," he said. "Things happen in the heat of the game and people say stuff. I don't hold any grudges. Obviously I should have made a better decision, passing the ball."
Wondolowski, 30, has led the league in scoring the past three years. He has emerged as one of MLS's marquee players and also is considered one of the league's humblest competitors. But the Danville native said his passion and competitiveness has gotten the best of him throughout his life.
"It's one of those things I know I need to channel that in different ways," Wondolowski said. "I know I need to not use the language that I use -- that's 100 per cent sure.
"I'm definitely not that person off the field. It's one of those things I can't explain it."
Coach Frank Yallop doesn't want his star striker to change too much.
"He's a 100 per center," Yallop said. "He won't settle for anything but the best. If it ever comes out of his game he's in trouble because that is what makes him tick."
Yallop was unaware of the controversy on social media over Wondolowski's actions until asked about it Tuesday. But the coach said it's the price athletes pay with cameras capturing every angle of their games.
"There is no malice in what Chris says at all," Yallop said. "It's a man's game." Garza "accepts it. He took a shot, maybe he should have crossed but in the end it's what Sam decided to do."
Wondolowski is not shy about screaming at officials in defense of teammates. He also has yelled at teammates in practices and games.
"It has happened before," the former Chico State star said. "It will happen again."
He added such outbursts have not affected the strong bonds in the Earthquakes' locker room. Wondolowski talked to his teammates after the game ended Saturday.
"I will do anything for Garza," Wondolowski said. "There's no animosity between us. If he scores than I'm the first one tackling him. If he gets on frame, I'm saying good job, keep hitting it."
The De La Salle-Concord graduate also has faced the wrath of teammates while developing as a pro in San Jose and Houston.
"I've done it and have gotten cussed out as well," he said of playing with stars Eddie Robinson and Brian Ching. "Just like those guys it's nothing personal."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.