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Buckle up, points per game will decide San Jose Earthquakes’ playoff fate

This will likely go down to the final whistle of the final day.

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

MLS confirmed Thursday that several games scheduled in Western Conference play will not be made up this season, and as a result there’s a change to playoff qualification.

Five games involving the Colorado Rapids, as well as a game between Minnesota United and FC Dallas, will not be played, as those games were affected by coronavirus outbreaks and the season is running out of time to make up the games. Perhaps if the Rapids only had to make up one game, they probably could have found a way. But with five to make up for Colorado, it’s temporally impossible with the regular season ending Nov. 8 and the league saying they will not play during the November international window.

So, what does that mean for the San Jose Earthquakes? They look like they will be able to complete their own regular-season schedule, with games against LAFC and the Seattle Sounders over the next two Sundays.

But MLS confirmed in addition to the postponed games vanishing into the ether forevermore, the standings and playoff spots will be decided by points per game this season.

Right now the Quakes are above the playoff line, in 7th place, on 1.29 points per game. But the chasing pack is breathing down their necks and the situation becomes more tense with points per game deciding the spots.

Taking a page from our friends at Burgundy Wave, here’s the scenarios for San Jose’s points per game future, depending on the outcome of the final two games:

  • Two wins: 1.43 ppg
  • One win, one draw: 1.35 ppg
  • One win, one loss: 1.3 ppg
  • Two draws: 1.26 ppg
  • One draw, one loss: 1.22 ppg
  • Two losses: 1.17 ppg

(Seriously, check out the full scenarios here from Burgundy Wave from the chasing pack to get a sense of how tight it is).

Obviously, unlike normal times, the Quakes can’t use their lead over the Rapids, Vancouver Whitecaps, Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo and even LA Galaxy on total points to be a buffer in case they don’t pick up maximum points in the final games. Even with the lead, a loss in one of these games could prove catastrophic for the Earthquakes if results elsewhere go against them.

The good news is if the Earthquakes win out, only the Rapids can overtake them if they win out themselves, so San Jose would reach the playoffs. If San Jose can’t win out? Honestly it looks like it’s going down to the wire. And with tough games coming up against two playoff teams, let’s just say the playoffs have already started for the Quakes.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.