Two times this week, the San Jose Earthquakes have won an MLS poll: Q won best mascot, and Adam Jahn won Goal of the Week. Suspicions should be raised in the wake of Jahn’s equalizer being voted best MLS goal for Week 5, and possibly with Q winning best mascot.
As most fans of the team and MLS know, all MLSSoccer.com polls are nothing but popularity contests; teams with the largest fanbases receive the most votes, thus win most of the user-voted polls. This is why Quincy did not finish in the finals for his golazo during week 2 despite being an early goal-of-the-year candidate. So why the sudden change in favor of San Jose?
For one, a new system was implemented to coincide with March Madness, a bracket in which the top 8 are nominated, and each person votes for four goals, then two in the next round, then one in the final round. These wins for San Jose might make sense if people’s favorite goal/mascot have been eliminated and they start voting for the “underdog” to ensure the goal/mascot that beat theirs does not go on to win the overall title.
Second, and more likely, the new system has a bug, allowing for multiple votes from a single user to throw the contest. On Thursday, Adam Jahn was behind in overall votes 55%-45%, and statistics would say he would lose, or win in a close race. By day’s end, Jahn won via a 2:1 margin.
No offense to Q or Jahn, but their victories lately may not be the result of being the best, but of being targeted by a fan or fans eager to push the small fanbase of San Jose into the national spotlight. The result is a bit of trolling by having our strange mascot and a lackluster goal win prizes they never should have won.
As much as I want to see San Jose winning contests, I cannot imagine these are legitimate wins for our club. Instead, I fear that the Quakes may be the beneficiary of a flawed system of fan voting which is giving us undeserved accolades. So as with all things MLSSoccer.com and fan voting, take these wins with a grain of salt, for most of the time they are just popularity contests, and sometimes they may be the result of something more sinister.