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CARSON, CA — If the San Jose Earthquakes win every game from here until the end of the season, there is a 99.5% chance they will make the playoffs, and it all begins tonight. San Jose (11-11-8) heads down the I-5 to take on their in-state and Western Conference Rivals Chivas USA (6-16-8) in a match that the Quakes cannot afford to lose. With just four games remaining in the regular season, if San Jose loses just one, their playoff chances reduce to 50%, tie and they reduce to 76.8%. Playoff math put aside, coming off a confidence boosting road win last week against Real Salt Lake, San Jose is in perfect position to secure the much needed three points tonight against a struggling Chivas USA side.
Prior to last week’s road win, San Jose had only won one road match the entire season, way back in June. Fortunately for San Jose, momentum has switched to their side at just the right time. Last week was the first boost. First place in the West, Real Salt Lake faltered and surrendered an extremely uncommon 2-1 loss to the Quakes. Steven Lenhart’s brace propelled the Quakes to their first road win in months, and may have begun a push towards the last playoff spot.
San Jose needs to use this confidence if they hope to make the post season. Of the final four games, two are home and two are away. The Quakes know and have proven they can win at home, it’s the road matches they must focus on. After tonight’s match against the Chivas, the last away game is against the LA Galaxy. This season, the San Jose and LA have split the season series, with the rubber match looking as if it has the chance to be the deciding game for San Jose.
The Quakes back line has become their strong suit. The confidence and stability of the back line has kept San Jose’s opponents off the scoreboard and fueled the front line with chances of their own. A minor setback for the Quakes, Clarence Goodson is listed as questionable for tonight’s game after suffering a bone bruise on his knee against RSL.
This is a must-win match, and a should-win match. But nothing is ever certain in the MLS. The Chivas have gone unbeaten in seven of their last eight matches at home, and with their road woes, this could prove to be difficult for San Jose. Tonight is just the beginning of their final playoff push, and San Jose cannot afford anything but to stand up to the challenge and win.