As the warm summer nights approach, another MLS season enters its middle stage with the future of some teams becoming clear. The Quakes are one of the teams whose future is less clear, as they remain bottom of the table, yet still close to the playoff line. With the summer transfer window fast approaching, the team’s prospects this season are still murky.
Currently the stats website 538 gives the Quakes a 16% chance of making the postseason, which isn’t exactly great for fans. Of course, this site has been wrong on sports stuff all the time, but it’s still a good reminder of the Quakes tough path to the playoffs.
For those who want to be optimistic, there are a few reasons why the Quakes should fancy their chances in the coming months. First and foremost is their offense, spearheaded by MLS golden boot leader Jeremy Ebobisse, this side’s offense is elite. Not only do they have a great offense, but their midfield has been really balanced and should power the team as sides around them continue to fall.
Of course, the Quakes have more than enough reasons to dismiss the idea of even making the dance. Defensively, it’s hard to find a side worse than the Quakes, as the team has just been leaking goals week in and week out. It’s even harder to find a way for the side to improve upon this historically bad defense.
Will the Quakes make the playoffs? Who knows as of right now, the league is very random and the Quakes still have a punching chance to get in, but it will all depend on that defense.
There are definitely reasons to be optimistic for this current side, as they possess some excellent qualities. If the team is able to keep up their excellent form offensively, they should have a chance to chase after certain times near the playoff line.
Ebobisse’s trade to the Quakes may rival Wondo’s transfer as the greatest piece of business that the team has ever made. Currently Ebobisse is tied for first place in the golden boot race and it doesn’t look like he will be stopping any time soon. If he reaches around 15 goals this season, it should be enough to keep the Quakes in the race for the playoffs.
Another addition that has been incredible for the side has been Monteiro, as he has created incredible chances for this side. Covelo has also managed to get the best out of Espinoza, with his hat trick being the highlight of his MLS career. Cowell is the other interesting aspect of this offense, as his play on the left wing has the potential of deciding the team’s success.
When the season first started, Almeyda created a totally unbalanced midfield with one of the side’s best players in defense. After his dismissal, Covelo moved Yueill back to the midfield and has gotten the most out of new addition Greguš. With two creative players in the middle, Covelo has balanced the side by playing a more defensive mid in Remedi to clean up play.
One bit of good news for the Quakes is that there are plenty of games to play and the sides ahead of them are not too far from them. As of the most recent matchday, the Quakes are only three points behind the final playoff spot. The teams ahead of them, the Sounders and Timbers for example, are quality sides that will require a top performance from the team to beat them to those final spots.
As the season continues its slow march to the playoffs, the hope is that the offense can fire the team over the line. With an offense and midfield that can rival any of the West’s top sides, the Quakes should like their chances at sneaking over that line.
As it has been for close to a decade, the side’s achilles heel has been its atrocious defense. This season has been no different, as the team has leaked goals at a historic level.
Clearly it hasn’t been a great season for Quakes defenders as the side finds itself at the bottom of the league for just about every defensive metric. The only sides comparable to the San Jose side, in terms of goals allowed are rebuilding teams like Sporting KC and DC United. Again, for a side that had hopes of making the playoffs this is a total disappointment.
Nathan’s early season injury robbed the Quakes of the chance of developing the proper defensive pairings, as it forced the side to field different lineups with little to success. Calvo has been hit or miss and Ågren may be too raw to start weekly, showing the team’s lack of depth defensively. The best pairing is Nathan and Beason, but both Almeyda and Covelo have been unwilling to use this duo more often.
One aspect of the defensive struggles has been the lack of a starting caliber right back despite the best efforts of Paul Marie and Tommy Thompson. Both players add another dimension when the team is on the attack, but neither is a good enough defender to keep their own against a top winger. Ideally, both clears could come off the bench and take that Salinas role where they can add life to a side.
To keep fans optimistic about the side’s prospects, the team will likely have some salary space available to bring in some better options in the backline. Chofis seems likely to depart which would open up another DP spot, meaning the front office could bring in an elite player. It would be interesting to see the club bring in a top choice right back, but a DP should only be used on a game changer.
Unfortunately, it seems that the side’s defensive performances will likely dictate the side’s chances at making the postseason. With so many issues defensively, the team’s achilles heel has reared its ugly head once more.
It’s way too early to make any definite predictions on whether the team will make the playoffs at this stage, as there are still months of action left to be played. Quakes fans are stuck in a sort of limbo with reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic. Ultimately, fans will have to wait until later this summer to fully predict what this side will make the playoffs.
Or not, as there is the terrifying possibility that the side will completely collapse like the past few seasons.
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes