Less than a month ago the San Jose Earthquakes’ playoff hopes had all but vanished.
After playing to a 0-0 draw at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps on September 14, the club sat five point off the final playoff spot with five games to go.
Since that game, however, which head coach Mark Watson described as “frustrating” and “disappointing” at the time, the Earthquakes have been on a tear. The squad has won three straight games overall including two MLS regular season games to climb back into the playoff hunt.
San Jose downed Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on September 21. Then a week later the team grabbed another road win over Chivas USA at the StubHub Center thanks to an 87th minute goal from Chris Wondolowski.
What makes the two-game win-steak so impressive, however, is that both wins came on the road. Before those back-to-back road wins, the Earthquakes had one just once away from home in 2013.
Now with just three games to go, San Jose (12-11-8) has 44 points, and is just one point off the pace for the final playoff spot.
Up next for the Earthquakes will be a game with serious postseason implications. San Jose hosts the Colorado Rapids on October 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara. The Rapids hold the fifth and final playoff spot as they have totaled one more point than the Earthquakes in one game fewer.
The final road test of the season will come on October 20 when the Earthquakes head south to take on the LA Galaxy. San Jose has a track record of pulling out big wins at the SubHub Center. Last November in the playoffs, the Earthquakes stole a win in the Galaxy’s house thanks to a 94th minute strike from Victor Bernadez.
The Earthquakes will need to find that magic once again as the Galaxy occupy the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings. The southern rivals have just one more point than the Earthquakes, but have also played one game fewer.
The final game of the MLS regular season will be in Santa Clara on October 26 against FC Dallas. The Earthquakes are 4-0-1 at home in their last five contests, and the club likes their chances as the season winds down.
As striker Alan Gordon put it after the disappointing draw with the Whitecaps: “We’re not going to say the clock is run out. We’re going to keep fighting. You never know what’s going to happen…and there’s no reason to quit now we’re right there.”