SANTA CLARA -- Their hopes for an MLS playoff berth all but gone, the Earthquakes will try to salvage something out of the season against CD Heredia-Guatemala on Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League.
A win at Buck Shaw Stadium to conclude group play of the regional tournament would clinch a spot in the quarterfinals in March.
Sunday's 0-0 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy essentially sealed the Earthquakes' fate regarding the postseason. They close the regular season at home against FC Dallas on Saturday.
"It was difficult to put that much into a game and into a season and not get the reward that you want," defender Clarence Goodson said. "But we have to put that behind us because this is a big game on Wednesday."
The Earthquakes' efforts in the Champions League resemble their MLS season. After a slow start in Group 5, San Jose can move into a tie with CD Heredia and the Montreal Impact with a win, giving each team six points. But the Quakes would have the edge in goal differential, the first tiebreaker.
To crack the MLS postseason, though, San Jose will need to pull off a small miracle. The Earthquakes must beat Dallas on Saturday then hope Colorado loses to Vancouver on Sunday.
At that point, the Quakes and Rapids would each have 51 points and 14 victories. But goals scored serves as the second tiebreaker, and Colorado has scored 12 more goals, meaning San Jose needs to score 13 goals and hope Vancouver shuts out Colorado.
The Quakes have only lost only once at Buck Shaw this season, but 13 goals seems like a mighty tall order.
"You never know," cracked goalkeeper Jon Busch. "We get nine by halftime ... You never know."
Interim coach Mark Watson promises they'll hold nothing back against CD Heredia, but the season finale is important, too.
"We want to win the game Saturday, it's important to our fans and they deserve a good performance, but the most important thing right now is winning Wednesday night," Watson said. "It can put more of a positive spin on our season."
Quakes general manager John Doyle has been impressed with his team's resilience down the stretch under Watson. The Quakes are 10-5-3, including 7-0-1 at home, since Watson replaced Frank Yallop in June, when the team was struggling at 3-6-6.
After a 3-0 road loss against the Galaxy on Aug. 31, the Quakes have gone 5-0-2 in all competitions, including working six shutouts.
"To have a chance and get as many points that we've gotten, it's been good," Doyle said. "It could have totally gone the other way, where the players packed it, but they showed a lot of character by working hard."
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