The United States men's national soccer team opened their World Cup send-off series with a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park on Tuesday, May 27th.
Former Chico State product Chris Wondolowski was one of the Americans participating in the game and his selection to the World Cup roster is the culmination of what's been an improbable soccer journey.
"I'm embracing every day and loving it," said Wondolowski.
A golden opportunity to represent the red, white and blue.
"Just trying to make the most of it," said Wondolowski.
A position he refuses to take for granted.
One week ago, Wondolowski was supposedly on the bubble for the World Cup team.
Now, he's in the starting line-up playing Azerbaijan to kick off a series of friendly's leading up to a June 16th match against Ghana on soccer's ultimate stage.
"I've just trying to take it day by day," said Wondolowski.
In this particular game, Wondolowski nearly made his mark twice but ultimately missed two headers in the first half.
Still, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann liked what he saw.
"He's full of energy, he's sharp, he's going for goal, he's looking for his chances, he creates himself chances," said Klinsmann.
But Wondolowski says he needs to capitalize on those chances.
"I gotta be able to finish those headers, a bit disappointed about that, but I'm definitely going to work harder and make sure I get it next time."
It's a scenario he's grown all too familiar with. The Chico State star was overlooked by major colleges and professional scouts, before recently emerging from the shadows to become one of the Americans' most prolific scorers.
In a ten-game span dating back to last July, Wondolowski found the net 9 times.
"You know we call him a ghost, because you don't know how he gets so wide open, all the time," said Dave McAllister.
"A lot of people were skeptical about him making the team, but you know he works hard, he persevere and now he's going to Brazil," added Oscar Murillo.
Off the field too, life has blossomed for Wondolowski. He and wife Lindsey welcomed a babygirl named Emersyn on December 23rd. Wondolowski says being a father is a game-changer and the overall experience is just another indication of how the last few months of his life have been like a dream.
"You know, love being a father, it's a great thing, definitely adds balance to this life, she keeps me sane," said Wondolowski.
She's a breath of fresh air in what's otherwise been a hectic time in his life. Wondolowski says he's discovered balance, let's hope he soon discovers the net too for the red, white and blue.