Distinct Disadvantage

And the goalscoring race goes to the final game after all. Didn't see a Wondolowski hat trick coming.

Now...were the San Jose Earthquakes stupid to win tonight? It depends on how you believe the playoffs are going to shake out. Jason Kreis thinks the Quakes should have taken a dive.

Boy, it's still weird to see a USA Today MLS article not by Beau Dure. Anyway, Mike Foss is a good listener for the woes and worries of Jason Kreis:

I read that at first as "Dallas and Seattle," and said to myself "Wow, I'm not the only one who thinks LA is going two and out in the playoffs." Apparently neither Foss nor Kreis were calling out the Galaxy, though. More's the pity.

I hate to agree with Kreis, but he seems to have a point. By losing, the bottom qualifiers in the West could have an easier path to MLS Cup than the four or five teams ahead of them in the standings.

No team which has switched conferences for the playoffs has ever failed to advance at least one round. The two previous years, the transferee made it to MLS Cup. That could easily happen again this year, and that's why Kreis is so miffed.

Both the Crew and the Galaxy look like they will hand out free passes to the conference finals, but a trip to New York isn't as intimidating as a trip to Dallas or Salt Lake. The Red Bulls have a perfectly respectable 9-3-2 record in the new park, but Dallas and Salt Lake have one loss at home. Between them. I'd rather take my chances in the RBA.

So what did the Quakes do tonight? Well, they passed Colorado and put themselves two points behind Seattle. If the season ends today, that's a first round bye against Columbus, then either on the road to Red Bull Arena or hosting the Rapids. That's a pretty good setup.

But the season doesn't end today, of course. The Crew might pass the Red Bulls...nah. The Crew do have nothing to play for Philly on Sunday, but the Red Bulls host New England on Friday, and the Revolution folded long ago.

But if Seattle takes Saturday afternoon off in Houston, and the Quakes are dumb enough to beat Kansas City...then that puts San Jose in fourth place, with a date against the Shield winners.

Now, if that means a series against the same Galaxy who spent the Saturday night screaming out the safe word against Colorado, then that's pretty good...except then they have to go to either Salt Lake or Dallas. That's pretty bad. The Quakes will end the year with a winning record on the road, and they did get a tie in Sandy back in June, but...yeah, I'd still favor the home team.

Of course, if Salt Lake wins the Shield, then fourth place in the West becomes even more dangerous...but fourth in the West gets a home game against first, which second and third in the West will not. With Salt Lake so dominant at home, having a home game beforehand could make a monstrous difference for their opponent. No wonder Kreis is annoyed.

So does Wondowloski go for the scoring title and MVP trophy at the expense of the Wizards...or do the Quakes lie down and take the easier road to Toronto? (It would probably be worth a semifinal loss for the privilege of beating the Galaxy in the playoffs, but unfortunately for San Jose, the Galaxy and Dallas don't play until Sunday, so they'll have to decide what they want to do in Kansas City and just take their chances.)

Would we have avoided this with a 1-8 seeding and one-game playoff series? Sure, but where's the fun in that?