With 11 matches remaining, Toronto FC can’t afford to drop points to teams like the struggling San Jose Earthquakes if the defending MLS Cup champions want to return to the postseason this year.
After a 3-2 home loss last Sunday to New York City FC, Toronto (6-12-5, 23 points) begins the weekend tied for last place on points in the Eastern Conference and seven points out of a playoff spot.
The Reds will look to pick up three points in their playoff pursuit when they travel to Northern California to face the Earthquakes at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday at Avaya Stadium.
And they will do so having some momentum as they secured a third straight Canadian Championship with a 5-2 win in the second leg of their final against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday.
But while a trip to the CONCACAF Champions League next year is secure, defending MLS hardware remains the first priority.
“We have an objective to make the playoffs now,” Toronto forward Tosaint Ricketts, who scored the last goal of the second leg, told the media recently. “And hopefully this championship will be a little confidence booster going into the rest of the season.”
Jozy Altidore scored a hat trick in that second leg for TFC, but will be suspended for the match at San Jose after receiving a red card early in last weekend’s league loss to NYCFC.
Meanwhile, the Earthquakes (3-13-7, 16 points) are still looking for their first home win since defeating Minnesota on March 3 in the season’s opening weekend.
But the performances have improved incrementally for the team with the fewest points in the league. San Jose is 1-1-1 over its last three matches, including a 3-1 victory at an FC Dallas side on Aug. 4 that entered the game leading the Western Conference.
Over their last 12 games, the Quakes have finished within a goal in all but one.
And with Dominic Oduro potentially making his San Jose debut after he was acquired in a trade from Montreal last week, coach Mikael Stahre believes better days are ahead, even if the postseason may be out of reach this year.
“He’s a really athletic player,” Stahre told ProSoccerUSA.com. “He can help us in that sense that we lack that quality, so we see him first of all has a winger. He looks quite sharp in his first week here, and he can help the team definitely.”
—Field Level Media