After winless start to July, San Jose Earthquakes look to jumpstart push for playoffs

SAN JOSE, Calif. – When the San Jose Earthquakes beat the LA Galaxy on June 27, the Quakes still trailed their southerly neighbors by three points in MLS’ Western Conference standings. But San Jose had played only 16 regular-season matches as of that night at Stanford Stadium, while the Galaxy had completed four more, meaning that the Quakes were out ahead on a points-per-game basis, 1.56 to 1.40.

Nevertheless, San Jose center back Clarence Goodson sounded a word of warning regarding that data.

“We have four games in hand,” Goodson said, “but if we lose all four, we’re below them.”

It looks like Goodson might be as good at prophesizing as he is at snuffing out opposing attacks. Since that high-water mark of a 3-1 California Clasico victory against the Galaxy, San Jose have dropped all six of their games in July -- a schedule that included three MLS regular-season efforts, a US Open Cup tilt against LA and two International Champions Cup friendlies -- by a combined score of 14-4.

This represents the Quakes’ first three-game losing streak in league play since coach Dominic Kinnear returned to San Jose this season, and it has shoved the club into eighth place in the West, just one point ahead of tied-for-last-place Colorado and Houston.

In PPG terms, San Jose (7-8-4, 1.32) trail Portand and Seattle by 0.20 points each. But for the first time in months, even if the Quakes win out their games in hand on teams above them in the playoff chase, it won’t put them above the red line. San Jose have played two fewer matches but sit seven points back of their northwestern rivals, who hold the fifth and sixth spots between them. The Quakes have three games on the second-place Galaxy, who are nine points ahead.

“The way the scheduling is, it’s so uneven,” Goodson said. “It’s not until the last five or seven games that things start to even up and we really see where things are.”

That’s why Kinnear casts an askance view at the idea of PPG.

“I look at points in the bank, 100 percent,” Kinnear said. “Games in hand are only good if you get something out of them. You can’t be like, ‘Well, we have four games in hand, so if we win two of these, then we’ll be [over the red line]. You have to just say, ‘Well, these are our points and when the games come, we’ll play them.’”

Having been bounced from the USOC and done with ICC play, the Quakes can focus solely on righting their regular-season ship, starting with a Sunday trip to Vancouver (7 pm ET; TSN2, RDS2, MLS LIVE). San Jose shut out the Whitecaps back in April, and the hosts are having July problems of their own, going 0-2-1 this month in MLS play.