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Monday Kickback: Week 31

Quakes on the brink of playoff elimination

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MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes couldn’t find a way to win at home and now sit on the wrong side of the playoff line. Their last hope is to go to Oregon and do something they have never done.

Five Losses in a Row

The Quakes limped into Sunday’s match against the Seattle Sounders hoping the friendly confines of Avaya Stadium would act as a salve for the wounds that were inflicted upon them on their eastern road trip. Instead, the Quakes languished at home and lost their fifth straight game leaving them below the playoff line and on the verge of missing the playoffs for yet another season.

The Quakes dominated the stat sheet as they have mostly done since figuring out how to work in Matias Almeyda’s system in April. But unlike that magical run in the summer, this version of the Quakes lacks that finishing touch to put goals in the back of the net. On Sunday that deficiency cost them dearly against a Sounders team that although third in the west, had only won once in their previous four matches. A win would have given the Quakes more freedom for Sunday’s upcoming Decision Day. Now the only option is to do something the Quakes have never done in their history. Win a game in Providence Park where the Quakes currently have a 0-8-3 record.

Running on Fumes

Every player seemed to benefit from the signing of Matias Almeyda, but players under 25 got their opportunity to prove themselves under the first-year manager. Players like Jackson Yueill and Tommy Thompson have flourished under Almeyda’s leadership, but the grueling training schedule and long MLS schedule can take its toll on anybody.

Thompson had only eclipsed 1,500 minutes in 2017, but if he plays at least four minutes in Portland, he will have played over 2,300 minutes in 2019. The Quakes offensive key all season Cristian Espinoza is well passed the 2,400-minute mark which is almost over 1,000 minutes more than his previous high water mark, 1,530 minutes, set back in the 2014/15 season when he played for Club Atletico Huracan of the Superliga.

Other key players on the Quakes roster are either near or below their historical averages so you can’t pin the Quakes recent form on just players running out of energy late in the season. The Quakes leading scorer and overall most liked player ever, Chris Wondolowski, has played less than 1,900 minutes which is his lowest total since the 2010 season.

Whatever is left is any of the player’s tanks will need to be used on Decision Day as the Quakes have no choice but to win or get an early start to the offseason.

Must Win on Decision Day in Portland

As I wrote above the Quakes have one option this Sunday: win in Portland which has never happened before in Quakes history. Reading that stat and looking and the Quakes recent form may have some fans thinking about how the Quakes are going to sign or replace Espinoza next season or how many more Liga MX teams will be linked to Almeyda before next season’s kickoff, but I am here to offer hope.

Since taking an extended road trip to start the season due to a massive expansion of Providence Park, the Timbers have been one of the worst teams at home in all of Major League Soccer. They will also be shorthanded as Brian Fernandez, who signed a DP contract in May and has 11 goals so far, was sent off in last week’s match in Kansas City. The Timbers were able to claw out a draw against Sporting Kansas City thanks to an 85th-minute penalty that kept Portland in the playoff race for one more week.

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