SAN JOSE -- Chris Wondolowski has taken full ownership of The Miss Seen 'Round the World.

Unequivocally and unabashedly.

The Earthquakes star isn't cowering from the World Cup shot that broke America's heart.

He returned to the Bay Area on Friday vowing to remember every painful detail even as some are lashing out on social media.

"I'll always think about it," Wondolowski said after his first practice with the Quakes since mid-May.

Wondolowski, 31, has scored more times than any U.S. player in the past four years, including a record-tying 27 Major League Soccer goals in 2012.

But the Danville native forever will be linked to one wayward shot Tuesday in the final breathless minute of regulation time in the United States' 2-1 defeat to Belgium.

Had Wondolowski converted into the open net from four yards away, the United States -- and not the Belgians -- would be in Brasilia, Brazil, on Saturday for a quarterfinal game against Argentina.

Had Wondolowski done what he usually does with his lethal right foot, he would have become an overnight sensation.

He was a moment from joining San Jose's Brandi Chastain in etching his name into American soccer lore before he booted the ball over the netting and into the stands.

His face immediately filled with anguish, a reaction Quakes fans have seen after every shot that doesn't reach the back of the net.

"I think about misses against Real Salt Lake from three years ago," Wondolowski said, when explaining how he handles adversity.


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Chastain made the penalty kick that led to the United States' victory over China in the 1999 Women's World Cup final at the Rose Bowl.

She landed on magazine covers. Wondolowski needed cover after his shot.

For millions of new soccer viewers, it was the biggest choke since Bill Buckner's flub in the 1986 World Series.

'I have to finish it'

But Wondolowski recounted his miss with clinical precision.

"I leaned back way too much," he said. "I have to finish it."

Wondolowski exchanged his No. 18 U.S. jersey for his blue No. 8 Quakes shirt Friday. Wondo, as friends and teammates call him, performed drills with the same intensity he always has with his team that has lost three in a row by shutout. San Jose hopes to end the skid next Friday when playing host to D.C. United.

"It's refreshing to have Wondo back," fellow striker Alan Gordon said. "He's our emotional leader. The vibe already is a little bit brighter."

Teammates didn't tiptoe around their captain at practice.

"I'm sure it stings," Gordon said of the missed shot. "It stung all of us, because we care about him. What's done is done. He's come back with a great attitude."

Wondolowski reinforced the observation, saying, "It was such a big moment on such a big stage, but it won't affect my play, it won't affect my mental state. It is going to be a driving force."

The striker has channeled disappointment throughout his career.

No major soccer school recruited Wondolowski out of De La Salle High-Concord, leading him to Division II Chico State.

No MLS club showed any interest, so Wondolowski went to a Quakes tryout, where he was so impressive he got picked in the 2005 supplemental draft.

After an unremarkable career with San Jose and the Houston Dynamo, Wondolowski got his chance in 2010 only because of a slew of injuries to Earthquakes strikers. The man who started the season fifth on the depth chart won the MLS Golden Boot award with 19 goals.

Although he kept scoring, most analysts said Wondo wasn't U.S. national team material because of a lack of speed and technical gifts.

As late as May, most considered Wondolowski a dark horse to make the 23-man roster. But coach Jurgen Klinsmann picked him over established star Landon Donovan.

Not surprisingly, some vented on social media that Donovan would have made that shot.

'Pretty thick skin'

Wondolowski has been called America's biggest villain since John Wilkes Booth, Benedict Arnold and, well, much worse. Much, much worse.

"People can say what they want, that doesn't bother me," he said. "I've got pretty thick skin."

As excruciating as it looks on the replay, Wondolowski didn't blow a point-blank shot as some have suggested.

Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made a perfect move by immediately charging off the line to cut down the angle. The striker had limited split-second options.

On Friday, Wondolowski dismissed any excuse thrown his way. Even with Courtois' great move, his job is to shoot toward the goal posts. Not over them.

That is the part that has left Wondo gutted. His one chance after entering the game in the 73rd minute came to nothing.

"That miss is going to help me," Wondolowski said. "I know I should make it."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.