Flying to Dallas this weekend for a massive match with your playoffs hopes in the balance? Better check the weather report.
As the strength of Hurricane Patricia has intensified over the Eastern Pacific Ocean -- the storm is now considered one of the strongest ever measured -- and coastal Mexico prepares for the worst, the San Jose Earthquakes must also consider the widespread impact the storm will have on their chase to make the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
This Sunday afternoon, the Quakes will face FC Dallas in the last game of the 2015 season needing a win against a team that has already clinched the top spot in the MLS Western Conference, one that still has designs on capturing the Supporters' Shield, to keep their own postseason dreams alive. Three points for San Jose is an imperative, though that alone still won't guarantee it a spot in the postseason. It will need help from other team around the conference to secure passage into the playoff.
And on top of that challenge, the Earthquakes may have to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane that is expected to bring heavy rains to already soaked Texas. Inclement weather and a soggy pitch may present problems for both teams in a game that has huge implications for both teams. Thanks, Mother Nature!
Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas -- home of FC Dallas and the Quakes' destination this weekend -- has been a fortress for the home team this season. With a gaudy record of 12-2-2 in their friendly confines, the Hoops will have the added incentive of playing for the top seed in all of MLS and the opportunity to host MLS Cup if they are to make it to the final. Their fellow Supporters' Shield contender New York Red Bulls kicks off at the same time -- 4:00 p.m. Pacific time -- with both teams level on points.
New York owns the tiebreaker over Dallas, and was originally scheduled to play two hours prior to their Texas rivals, so a win by Red Bulls would have rendered the Hoops' match against San Jose meaningless. Instead, with MLS making the scheduling change earlier this week to run the two matches concurrently, the Earthquakes will face an FC Dallas line-up that will be at full strength. Thanks, MLS!
Call it adversity, if you like -- something the Quakes have pushed through for the better part of the season -- and at times San Jose has rallied around the cause and found success. Will the Earthquakes let a little rain in the air, mud in their cleats, and a Shield seeking opponent slow them down? These aren't issues a playoff-worthy team would allow to have any effect on its effort, and on Sunday, the Quakes will need to have but one focus -- victory.