SAN JOSE, Calif. - In search of their third MLS Cup championship in club history, the Quakes must first finish the season above the red line as one of the top six teams in the Western Conference. After drawing 1-1 with the Montreal Impact, the San Jose Earthquakes are currently sitting in seventh place in the West with five games to go.
The Western Conference has proved to have a great deal of parity, with every club still in playoff contention despite being in mid-September. However, barring a late-season surge by Houston, Real Salt Lake or Colorado, the 4-6 seeds in the West appear to be battled for by Seattle, Sporting KC, Portland and San Jose, with one team destined to fall below the red line. Quakes fans need to pack Avaya Stadium for the final three home games, while keeping an eye on scores around the league as the playoffs quickly approach.
Although the Quakes control their own destiny at this point, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s going on around the rest of Major League Soccer and to be privy to the club’s rooting interests.
What to watch for this weekend:
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
FC Dallas vs. Sporting KC (4 p.m. PT on UniMas)
This critical matchup between two current playoff teams in the Western Conference could have a serious implications for San Jose depending on which way the ball bounces. Best case scenario for the Quakes, FC Dallas earns all three points as they continue their ascent up the top of the standings, while Sporting KC continues to spiral, extending their winless streak to six matches. Worst case scenario for San Jose, Sporting prevails victorious, leaping past the Quakes in the process. A draw would not be the worst outcome possible, especially as Sporting are playing in front of their home crowd.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19
Colorado Rapids at Toronto FC (11 a.m. PT)
Despite being at the bottom of the Western Conference, Colorado is 3-1-1 in their last five games and still have a puncher’s chance to reach the postseason. San Jose would prefer to see Toronto FC, an Eastern Conference club, walk away victorious.
Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4 p.m. PT)
Much like the matchup between Sporting and FC Dallas the day before, this Western Conference clash pits a club at the top of the table – Vancouver – against one fighting for a playoff spot – Seattle. It would be in San Jose’s best interest for Vancouver to earn all three points at BC Place.
LA Galaxy at Real Salt Lake (6:30 p.m. PT)
Much to the chagrin of Earthquakes fans, it may actually prove beneficial for the Galaxy to win this one. Three points for RSL would keep them in the race and could give them a momentum boost going forward.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
New York Red Bulls at Portland Timbers (2 p.m. PT on ESPN 2)
Another easy-to-root-for matchup, as this contest pits a Western Conference club battling with San Jose against a team from the East. The Red Bulls are 9-2-1 over their last 12 games and Quakes fans would be happy to seem them earn another W.
Houston Dynamo at Philadelphia Union (4 p.m. PT on FS1)
The final East vs. West matchup of the weekend. The Union have earned points in four of their last six matches (2-2-2) and San Jose would appreciate them extending that to five of the last seven by winning this home contest.