SAN JOSE — The MLS Cup playoff picture got more interesting for the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday after their Western Conference home game against Los Angeles Football Club was postponed in the wake of three positive COVID-19 cases within the visiting team’s player group.
According to the Earthquakes, Major League Soccer officials are assessing whether the game, scheduled for Sunday night, can be held before the regular season ends Nov. 8. The most likely date would be Wednesday, which would force the seventh-place Quakes (7-8-6, 27 points) to play twice within five days.
San Jose is in a position to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth time since re-entering the league 12 years ago. The Earthquakes hope their fate won’t come down to the season finale at first-place Seattle.
The league plans to use a points-per-game system to determine the playoff field because not all teams have been able to play a 23-game regular-season schedule after cancellations because of positive coronavirus tests.
With 1.29 points per game, San Jose perhaps stands a better chance of advancing to the postseason by not playing LAFC, which like Seattle already has qualified for the playoffs.
One way to look at it is if the LAFC game is canceled playoff challengers Real Salt Lake (1.1 points per game) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (1.14 ppg) would need to win both of their final two games to leapfrog San Jose if the Quakes lose in Seattle.
Real Salt Lake is scheduled Sunday to face the last-place L.A. Galaxy, which installed former Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear as its interim after firing Guillermo Barros Schelotto. RSL will end the season at home against second-place Sporting Kansas City.
Vancouver plays at third-place Portland on Sunday and ends the season at home against the Galaxy.
Although LAFC has had any positive results among its remaining players and staff since Friday, the league postponed the game “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a news release.
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Author: Elliott Almond, Darren Sabedra