I think it’s safe to say the San Jose Earthquakes have exceeded expectations so far at the MLS is Back Tournament.
Aside from the locker room, which I am certain has carried full and unfailing belief, I think the hope from most Earthquakes partisans was that the team would find a way to qualify for the knockout round.
The draw turned out to be pretty kind, all things considered — playing a rusty Seattle Sounders team right out of the gate, their toughest opponent, San Jose had the ability to beat a fragile Vancouver Whitecaps side even when spotting them a 3-1 lead, and likely got a big break from FC Dallas’ teamwide coronavirus outbreak. FCD likely would have been a tougher out that the Chicago Fire, who have barely played together with a totally remade roster.
Still, even if you grant the Earthquakes’ draw and order of games worked in their favor, their performance in the group stage was terrific. Posting a 2-0-1 record, winning the group, they’ve put themselves in a substantially better position in the Round of 16, where they’ll face Real Salt Lake on Monday.
But now we get to the tricky end of the tournament, and a new calibration for the Quakes. What should we reasonably expect from them the rest of this competition? I’m sure you would love to see them win it, and that would be pretty cool. Is that the bar?
I’d say no. To me, winning the next game should be the minimum expectation, to reach the quarterfinals. The winner of Quakes-RSL will play the winner of Columbus Crew vs. Minnesota United Round of 16 game. The Crew have looked like possibly the best team in the tournament, while Minny have given the Quakes fits, just this year, in fact.
Again, San Jose have played very well and there’s no need to back off on expecting them to keep pushing in this tournament. I think a quarterfinal berth should be the minimum expectation now, and anything beyond that is gravy. If San Jose really crush RSL? Then maybe we recalibrate as we go.
I want to hear what you think: What’s the minimum expectation for the Earthquakes in the rest of the MLS is Back Tournament? Vote in the poll below and explain your choice in the comments.
What is the minimum expectation for the Earthquakes in the MLS is Back Tournament?
This poll is closed
Reaching the knockouts
Winning a knockout game
Reaching the semifinals
Reaching the final
Winning the whole thing