The Earthquakes are set to embark on a journey that ended prematurely in 2010 – the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Like the 2005 season, the 2012 Quakes have secured the Supporters’ Shield and are hungry to add to their trophy cabinet. Possessing a franchise-best record of 19-6-8 and 65 points, the Earthquakes will face Western Conference rival Portland Timbers to conclude their regular season and seek to add to their historic point tally.
The 2012 Earthquakes results beg the question: Is this the greatest team in Earthquakes history?
A trio of “Bash Brothers” have spearheaded the prolific Earthquakes attack that has combined for a club-best 71 goals on the season. Chris Wondolowski’s 26 goals, one shy of tying Roy Lassiter’s 16 year record for goals in a season, Alan Gordon’s 13, and Steven Lenhart’s 10 strikes account for nearly 70 percent of San Jose’s offense.
Surely, the 2012 team is in pursuit of one trophy that would unanimously grant the team the deserved recognition.
The 2001 and 2003 teams secured the MLS Cup Championship, yet neither had the lethal scoring prowess of the current team or a Supporters' Shield. The 2001 team was led by Ronald Cerritos’ 11 goals and six assists and supported with the elusive, budding Landon Donovan who added 10 assists. Similarly, in 2003, Landon Donovan led the Quakes with 12 goals and six assists and Brian Mullan provided nine helpers.
Yet, the current season has taken on a different mentality; not only finding a wealth of goal-scorers but capitalizing on last-minute, dramatic winners. Out of his 26 strikes, Wondolowski has 11 game-winning goals to his name. The prevalent “Goonies-Never-Say-Die” attitude has never taken on as much meaning or pride.
The 2012 Quakes have been rewarded for such heroics. Defenders Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour joined Chris Wondolowski to face Chelsea F.C. in the 2012 MLS All-Star Game. Adding to his Golden Boot, Wondolowski has been nominated for Volkswagen MLS MVP, Alan Gordon has been nominated for Comeback Player of the Year, Victor Bernardez has earned nominations for both Defender of the Year and Newcomer of the Year and Frank Yallop may supplement his 2001 Coach of the Year award with another after his nomination.
After concluding their season away to Portland, the Earthquakes will either face California Clasico rival LA Galaxy or sophomore MLS member Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. in one of the Western Conference Semifinals. If this season has been any indication, the Earthquakes faithful are in for a wild, successful playoff adventure.