Two steps forward, one step back. That’s how you take part in San Jose’s new dance craze, “the Postseason Shuffle."
The Earthquakes came into Red Bull Arena on Saturday riding their first winning streak since early May, courtesy of a back-to-back 1-0 victories. They left with a 2-0 defeat to New York that kept them smack in the middle of a pile of teams chasing after the last three postseason berths.
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With Los Angeles, Columbus, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas and New York pulling clear in the top five spots, the Quakes look like they’ll be battling the rest of the way with the likes of Seattle, Colorado, Toronto and Chicago for their first playoff spot since being re-established in 2008.
“Unless we the next five games in a row, it’s going to be tight,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop told MLSsoccer.com over the phone after Saturday's loss. “That’s the way it goes. We haven’t got enough points to be in the top three.”
The sting of losing might have been assuaged somewhat by the earlier victories, but at 8-7-5, San Jose know they must make the most out of their final 10 matches.
“We were coming in here looking for at least a point, if not three,” center back Bobby Burling said. “We were riding a pretty good streak of two home games. It was a game of chances; we didn’t put ours away, and they did.”
The Quakes defense might have been punctured by Dane Richards’ slaloming run during first-half injury time, and sliced open again by a Richards cross in the 63rd, setting up Thierry Henry for his first MLS goal. But Yallop pointed out that San Jose had their chances to score, if only they had managed to put more than two of their 12 overall shots on goal.
“We created at least five great chances to score and didn’t score any goals,” Yallop said. “For me, to create five chances and not score a goal was really disappointing. It’s a combination of guys, but Cornell had some really, really good chances to score, and usually he buries them.”
In past years, yes. This season, not so much. Glen now has one goal in 725 minutes this season, well off his MLS career average. But the Quakes’ other options are either still nursing injuries (Scott Sealy, Eduardo), have squandered their own set of chances (Ryan Johnson) or are not up to snuff, fitness-wise (Geovanni). So Chris Wondolowski shouldn’t assume he’ll have another striking partner come Monday’s training session.
“If you’re creating chances, at least you’re in the right spot,” Yallop said of Glen. “I thought he worked hard and played well for the team tonight. I expect him [to be playing next week].”
That’s when the Quakes travel to Houston to face a Dynamo team that’s in even more dire straits than their San Jose replacements.
“Moving forward to Houston next week, we know their back’s against the wall,” Burling said. “I really think it’s going to go down to the wire. It’s going to be a dogifight for those last spots. We know each game is as important as the next.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes