The Quakes juggernaut continued its run of Total League Domination on the road Saturday night against Chivas USA, putting 5 points between themselves and Sporting Kansas City in the Supporters’ Shield race, and 8 points between themselves and the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference.
Now that San Jose has officially made it to the playoffs, one might think they might hit a late-season slump–either that or simply take the foot off the gas a bit in preparation for November. However, all signs point to that not being the case.
Even while implying that he might be more cautious in his lineups in order to protect certain players from injury, coach Frank Yallop stated that
Clearly the team has developed into a well-oiled machine–one with several interchangeable parts. This stands in stark contrast to last season’s injury-stricken and therefore paper-thin roster. Even if he does decide to err on the side of caution, Yallop has options aplenty.
Another factor to keep in mind is the remainder of San Jose’s regular season schedule. While it consists of entirely Western Conference opponents–traditionally considered the tougher of the two conferences–only 2 of the 5 teams they will play are currently in playoff standing. Their remaining opponents, along with Chivas USA, sit at the bottom of the conference; and they play Portland, tied in last place, twice.
A look at the remaining matches for Sporting Kansas City–the closest contender for the Supporter’s Shield–shows a slightly more difficult schedule. They face all Eastern Conference rivals. Points-wise, the Eastern Conference is much closer than the Western Conference. SKC will play the New York Red Bulls, who are only 2 points behind them in the standings, twice away in New York. They will also face surprise contenders the Chicago Fire, who only trail by a point.
What about Seattle, sitting in second place in the Western Conference? All but 2 of the Sounders’ remaining opponents (also all Western Conference) currently sit in playoff position; and FC Dallas only sits 1 point out of the playoffs. Of course, they have one remaining match up against San Jose at home in Seattle–a difficult game, but they will have home field advantage.
With so much soccer left to be played, nothing is certain; however, the odds certainly seem to be stacked in favor of San Jose making a deep run into the playoffs. The San Jose faithful would go further. We want the Supporters’ Shield AND the MLS Cup. In San Jose (or Stanford, as the case may be). We want the Golden Boot. We want Coach of the Year. And by golly, I believe we will do it.
Remember: Goonies never say die!
Image courtesy of SJEarthquakes.com