Team celebration - 2017

FEATURE: All of the potential playoff push scenarios and what we need to do to secure a spot

First things first, the Earthquakes’ dominant win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday has kept San Jose alive in the playoff race. However, the back-to-back losses at D.C. United and vs. the Chicago Fire have the Quakes needing a little help as we approach the postseason. The club does not control its own destiny, but can play a large, large part in the overall outcome.

Sitting in seventh, level on points (42) with both sixth place Real Salt Lake and eighth place FC Dallas, the Quakes are in the thick of one of the tightest playoff races in recent memory. Every team from fifth to eighth is currently within one point, meaning the order will almost certainly shuffle at the end of each 90 minutes played.

 San Jose has two games remaining, same as RSL. However, the Earthquakes will surely lose a potential goal differential tiebreaker against the Utah side, meaning they’d need to finish ahead of them on points earned.

The two other teams, Houston (43) and FC Dallas (42), each have three remaining games. San Jose would currently beat both teams on the first tiebreaker (wins – SJ 12, HOU 11, FCD 10), but both obviously have one extra game to gather points.

Mathematically, the Earthquakes can still catch all teams 2-4 as well – Portland (47), Sporting Kansas City (47) and Seattle Sounders FC (47) – but would have to win both remaining games.

Let’s take a look at some scenarios that result in San Jose reaching the playoffs:

6 points – win at VAN and win vs. MIN

With six points, the Quakes have a great chance. They would finish with 48 points and 14 wins. That means two of the scenarios below would have to happen for the club to clinch a berth.

POR – earn no more than one point from their final two games (vs. DC and vs. VAN)

SKC – earn no more than one point from their final four games (at MIN, at HOU, vs. HOU and at RSL)

SEA – earn no more than one point from their final two games (vs. FCD and vs. COL)

HOU – earn no more than five points from their final three games (vs. SKC, at SKC and vs. CHI)

RSL – earn no more than four points from their final two games (at COL and vs. SKC)

FCD – earn no more than six points from their final three games (at COL, at SEA and vs. LA)

Some of these scenarios are highly unlikely, including Portland failing to win either home game or Sporting picking up just one point in four games. However, Houston, RSL and Dallas are all likely to very likely scenarios – and the Quakes just need two of them.

 

4 points – win at VAN and draw vs. MIN or vice versa

With four points, the Quakes have a chance – not a great chance, but a chance nonetheless. They would finish with 46 points and 13 wins. Two of the scenarios below would have to happen for the club to clinch a berth.

HOU – earn no more than three points from their final three games (vs. SKC, at SKC and vs. CHI)

RSL – earn no more than three points from their final two games (at COL and vs. SKC)

FCD – earn no more than four points from their final three games (at COL, at SEA and vs. LA)

Clearly that narrows things down a bit with Portland, Sporting and Seattle now out of reach. The most likely would be RSL losing one of their two games and Dallas going 1-1-1.

 

3 points – loss at VAN and win vs. MIN or vice versa

With three points, the Quakes are alive, but not well. They would finish with 45 points and 13 wins. Two of the scenarios below would have to happen for the club to clinch a berth.

HOU – earn no more than two points from their final three games (vs. SKC, at SKC and vs. CHI)

RSL – earn no more than two points from their final two games (at COL and vs. SKC)

FCD – earn no more than three points from their final three games (at COL, at SEA and vs. LA)

We’re getting stretched a bit thin now. Would basically mean none of the three teams could win a single game.

 

2 points – draw at VAN and draw vs. MIN

With two points, the Quakes are on life support. They would finish with 44 points and 12 wins. Two of the scenarios below would have to happen for the club to clinch a berth.

HOU – earn no more than one point from their final three games (vs. SKC, at SKC and vs. CHI)

RSL – earn no more than one point from their final two games (at COL and vs. SKC)

FCD – earn no more than two points from their final three games (at COL, at SEA and vs. LA)

Stranger things have happened I suppose.

 

1 point – draw at VAN and loss vs. MIN or vice versa

With one point, the Quakes are flat lining. They would finish with 43 points and 12 wins. Two of the scenarios below would have to happen for the club to clinch a berth.

HOU – earn no points from their final three games (vs. SKC, at SKC and vs. CHI)

RSL – earn no points from their final two games (at COL and vs. SKC)

FCD – earn no more than one point from their final three games (at COL, at SEA and vs. LA)

Can two teams of these teams completely collapse?

 

0 point – loss at VAN and loss vs. MIN

With no points, the Quakes are eliminated. They would finish with 42 points and 12 wins. No possible scenario to advance.

Topics: 

Download the FREE MLS App

Follow San Jose's scores, updates, highlights, analysis and more.