Through a hellacious schedule, saturated with matches against playoff teams, dosed with a heavy load of air miles and sprinkled with a little bit of poor luck, the San Jose Earthquakes have fallen below the playoff line with five straight losses, dropping eight of their last 10.
But let’s stay focused on their last five losses: If you ask them, the Quakes feel they have played well despite failing to picking up points.
“We had good control of the game,” veteran Shea Salinas said after their most recent loss to Seattle. “We had our chances and just weren’t able to put them away.”
“I don’t think we need to change too much,” echoed forward Danny Hoesen. “The effort is there and the belief is there. We were a little bit unlucky.”
Sunday, October 6 at 4:00pm
The schedule hasn’t been easy. Not only have they faced playoff teams, but four of their last five opponents are currently occupying high playoff seeds. Three of the five matches have come on the road and the Quakes have also dealt with red cards in two of those games. Two losses came on goals conceded in stoppage time, another two in the 75th minute or later.
The counter: The late goals could show the inherent risk of their combative, all-action brand of soccer and the red cards are also under their control. Still, the numbers suggest they should have a few more points than the zero they grabbed.
Scoring problems plaguing Quakes
San Jose have an expected goal difference of +0.39, good for 10th in the league over that span, but an actual goal difference of -6. The problem? They’ve scored just three goals on 7.64 xG. And one of those three goals was a Brad Guzan own goal in Atlanta.
Still, it’s not over for the Quakes.
The team that finished bottom in MLS in 2018 still hold their own destiny heading into Decision Day presented by AT&T: Win and you’re in. San Jose travel to face the Portland Timbers (Sunday, 4 pm ET | ESPN; MLS LIVE on DAZN) knowing three points will do the trick and a draw might be good enough, if FC Dallas lose to Sporting KC.
“These are the moments when the team should react,” head coach Matias Almeyda said. “Generally, in soccer there are moments throughout the season – whether it’s the World Cup, Champions League, Liga MX, Argentine Superliga, MLS – where one should stand up and make a difference. In that sense, there has been a few teams who have stood up and made that difference. The rest of us have been alternating.”
Can the Quakes stand up and get over the playoff line on Decision Day? Stay tuned.