Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - The San Jose Earthquakes can clinch its first playoff spot since rejoining Major League Soccer in 2008 on Saturday, but the two-time MLS Cup champions need a win at RFK Stadium against D.C. United and a little help.
San Jose, which won MLS titles in 2001 and 2003 before the franchise relocated to Houston in 2006 and won back-to-back title as the Dynamo, will advance with a victory and a loss by the Kansas City Wizards, who play Seattle Sounders FC.
The Earthquakes (11-8-7) currently hold the last of the league's eight playoff berths, but hold a comfortable seven-point cushion over the Wizards with four games to play for each side.
D.C. United (6-8-13), which has the most MLS Cup titles in league history with four, is nearing the end of the worst season in franchise history but is fresh off a 1-0 win at Colorado last weekend.
San Jose manager Frank Yallop has to deal with the absences of Cornell Glen, Khari Stephenson and Ryan Johnson to national team duty, but the club has done well of late and another result should be possible.
San Jose has lost just one of its last six games, going 3-1-2 during that span to solidify its playoff positioning, and would need a late collapse to fail to advance.
"We're keeping our heads down, trying to grind out results and get as many points as possible and to maybe catch somebody in front of us before the season's out," San Jose defender Jason Hernandez said.
"That's the mentality you have to have."
San Jose could easily move up the standings, as Colorado and Seattle are both within two points. The main objective is just reaching the postseason, and not waiting until the regular-season finale against Kansas City on Oct. 23.
The Earthquakes start a three-match stretch this week where they play teams in bottom of the MLS table, so D.C. United may not even be able to play spoiler.
United won at Colorado last weekend for the first time since 2000 but the only thing left for D.C. is to try and climb out of last in the overall standings.
United is also without three players due to international duty this week, with Branko Boskovic, Julius James and Dejan Jakovic absent. In addition, rookie Any Najar is suspended due to yellow-card accumulation.
D.C. interim boss Ben Olsen was pleased with last week's win at Colorado, and hopes the team can compensate for the losses to add another positive result to a strong finish to the season.
"Obviously, it doesn't fix a bad season," he said after the win at Colorado, "but winning [at Colorado] is a very tough thing. ... there's something to be proud of in that result."