Earthquakes Musings: Playoff reality

October 17, 2010, 1:17 am
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Oct. 16, 2010EARTHQUAKES PAGEJoe Washington

The last few weeks for Earthquakes fans have been a bit odd, especially for those who started following the team closely after their return in 2008 -- maybe not exactly a throng of folks, but a group or which I am a member. It was a bit surreal to read a press release that said If the Quakes win and the Wizards lose, San Jose will have clinched a playoff spot.

The last two years had conditioned me, no matter how poorly the team was playing, to come up with outlandish scenarios that would see the Quakes through to the playoffs. This would carry me through October and keep my hopes alive. This year, with three games remaining, and a game in hand on most of their competition, the boys are already in.

Those same two years have led to a frustration; in games where the Quakes had to accomplish something, they just did not have what it took to get the job done. This year, the biggest frustration Ive had is San Jose's inability to play well when it has a huge home crowd. For whatever reason, the team has laid an egg in games where Buck Shaw Stadium was packed. As someone who wants to spread the gospel of the team, it is heartbreaking to see all of these people finally giving the Quakes a chance, and then the team doesnt deliver.

Exhibit A Opening night against Salt Lake City. After a great exhibition season, the Quakes lose 3-0 in a manner that had me wondering why general manager John Doyle had his contract extended. The game wasnt even as close as the 3-0 score would indicate.

Exhibit B July 3, the Quakes tie D.C. United 1-1. D.C. United has scuffled all season long and the Quakes played down to their level in front of 10,304.

Exhibit C Sept. 29 a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Fire in front of 9,829. One thing Ive noticed on the teams web site is they dont list the attendance for all of the games. Now there was a great crowd on hand for the game against the Galaxy where the Quakes won 1-0, but that has proven to be the exception rather than the rule.

One thing that is lacking this season in the MLS is the parity that has existed previously. While it is still true that any team in the league seems capable of beating any other team in the league on a given night, having all but one of your playoff spots determined with two weeks left in the season, isnt exactly the most drama inducing scenario.

For whatever reason, the Eastern Conference has been terrible this year. After New York and Columbus, the only team still left in the playoff hunt is Kansas City and they are left with the task of winning both of their final games AND hoping Dallas doesnt get a point in the final two games. Kansas City is in the same position the Quakes have been in the last couple of years, hoping that a bunch of things, mostly out of their control, happen so they can keep playing.

I cant post a blog entry without acknowledging the efforts of Chris Wondolowski again. Against D.C. United last weekend, he cemented his credentials as one of the most lethal finishers in the league, with two more electric goals. The best part is Wondo seems to realize he cant score most of his goals without the help of quality plays from his teammates. I think his teammates appreciate this about him, too. Hes got a legitimate chance at setting the team record for goals in a season, as well as an outside chance for leading the MLS in goals, or the leagues Golden Boot. It is truly refreshing stuff for those of us that spent many a moment pleading that Kei Kamara would find a way to put the ball in the net.

Go Quakes!

Joe Washington is the Live Events Producer for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and a wannabe "Earthquakes Ultra."

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