Cristian Espinoza – San Jose Earthquakes – frustrated look

A team’s destiny for 2019 is surely not locked up at this point of the season. 

Look no further than how D.C. United sparked to life upon signing Wayne Rooney last summer, or when the New England Revolution inked Jermaine Jones midway through 2014 en route to an MLS Cup run.

But if 538’s projections are any indication, there’s reason for three Western Conference clubs to be concerned: Vancouver Whitecaps FC, San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids.

The Whitecaps, with one point through the first five games of the Marc Dos Santos era, are given a 15 percent chance of making the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. A darker position emerges for San Jose, which is given a 13 percent chance with the Matias Almeyda era off to a rocky start. The gloomiest outlook arrives for Colorado, which is given league-low odds of eight percent.

Much can change and these projections are fluid, but all three clubs have serious ground to make up with just under 20 percent of the MLS schedule already in the books.

Vancouver, with a Western Conference low of four goals scored, has experienced bright moments as Dos Santos’ system takes root. The club massively overhauled its roster this past offseason, shown by eight newcomers featuring in the XI for last Friday’s 2-0 home loss to the LA Galaxy.

For the Earthquakes, it took until Week 6 for them to finally secure a first win under Almeyda – a 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. Surprisingly, Portland is given a 41 percent chance to make playoffs despite sitting rock bottom in the Supporters’ Shield race with one tie and a negative-10 goal differential.

Lastly, Colorado has just two draws through its first six games and Kei Kamara said they need a “maximum six points” from their upcoming two-game home stretch. The Rapids are in their second year under head coach Anthony Hudson, with an 8-23-9 record through 40 matches. They similarly reshaped a significant chunk of the roster before 2019.

The 2019 season will mark the first time seven teams from each conference will make the playoffs. From a pure numbers standpoint, there’s no better time to reach postseason play.