Shrader's Spin: Fear the No. 8 seed

Real Salt Lake did it in 2009; can San Jose be this season's Cinderella story?

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John Shrader is a TV/radio commentator for the San Jose Earthquakes.

So, here I am, getting ready for a playoff game for the first time in five years. And it feels good. 

It’s great to look back at the season, at the club’s history, to size up the first round matchup. Time to look up the playoff history, take a look at the two winning Cup finals. It’s nice to see the Earthquakes among the league’s elite.

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And the good news is: There’s so much talk about the New York – Los Angeles final. That is certainly what the league bigwigs want; what the sponsors want; and, you could bet that’s what ESPN/ABC want for the title game in Toronto on November 21.

The Galaxy (0-1-1 vs. the Quakes) are the top seed. New York (1-1 vs. the Quakes) is the top seed in the East.

The Quakes are the No. 8 seed.

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But, ask Real Salt Lake’s players what they thought of being the No. 8 seed in the tournament last year. Maybe not much in the beginning (after all, they got in on the last day of the season via tie-breaker), but they sure wear that proudly now, don’t they?

It’s my job to tell you this is a wide-open, eight-team tournament, the MLS Cup Playoffs. It has the added advantage of being true.

Two years ago, New York got into the playoffs as the final team and played for the Western Conference title. Last year, RSL got in as the last seed and not only made the final, they won it.

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Don’t pay much attention to the media talk about the Red Bulls missing players - Henry, Tchani and Ibrahim. We don’t have enough time to talk about how the Quakes patched things together all season long.

Right now it doesn’t matter.  The Quakes are one of eight teams – all with winning records, a first in the league’s 15-year history – that could win the Cup.

The Quakes winning the Cup in 2010, their third year back in the league, would be as likely as Chris Wondolowski leading the league in scoring, right? You would get better odds on that now than you would have in March on Wondo’s 18-goal season.

I would love to still be preparing for a game in a little over three weeks, a game to be played on the shores of Lake Ontario. The last game of the year.