This MLS season is now roughly a third of the way over and two things are becoming increasingly clear:
1. The Quakes are better than they were last season
2. That may not matter much in their pursuit of the playoffs
Take a look at the Western Conference standings table. Down at the very bottom sits Houston, the squad San Jose easily dispatched in their last match. You can probably count them out of the playoff picture.
Other than that? Chaos.
[RELATED: MLS standings]
Colorado was supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league, and instead they have an MLS-leading 24 points. In second place sits FC Dallas, which looks unbeatable at home and, well, vulnerable on the road.
After those two teams comes a cluster of squads all roughly in the same boat. The team in third place (Vancouver) and the team in seventh (Kansas City) are separated by three points. Think about that: Half of the conference is separated by one win's worth of points in the standings.
As if that wasn't enough, there's also the looming presence of Seattle and Portland, two squads that have struggled early but are more than capable of charging up the standings if they figure things out.
If the Quakes continue the point pace they're currently on, they'll finish the season around 56 points. In 2015, that would have been good enough to make the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. In 2016, it remains to be seen if that will be even be good enough to make the playoffs.
BEHIND THE STANDINGS
Vancouver was a trendy pick for 2016 MLS title at the start of the season, and after a slow start, they're starting to show why. The Whitecaps' 4-3 win over Canadian rivals Toronto last week was their third in a row, and one of the most impressive road victories of the season.
Quakes fans aren't going to want to hear this, but the Galaxy might be the most dangerous team in MLS. Their plus-12 goal differential this season is the best in the league by a huge margin.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Tommy McNamara and New York City FC are capable of greatness, but can be frustratingly inconsistent. This goal here? This is the good stuff.
SAVE OF THE WEEK
Technically, this is "Saves of the Week," since Joe Bendik makes a pair of big stops for Orlando here:
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Quakes play a friendly match Wednesday night against La Liga's Real Sociedad, then head down to SoCal for a matchup with the Galaxy on Sunday night. Given the way San Jose has performed historically in road games against LA, even a tie would probably feel like a big win for the Quakes.
Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC are both just a single point behind San Jose. After they play each other Saturday, that will no longer be true about at least one of these squads.