It feels like the playoff window for the San Jose Earthquakes has been closing at an excruciating slow pace the last couple of matches.
But on Saturday, following a 2-1 loss at Avaya Stadium, Sporting Kansas City may have just emphatically slammed it shut.
Needing a win to put pressure on sixth place Kansas City, the Quakes surrendered an 81st minute corner kick goal to Kevin Ellis and the visitors held on during the final stretch for the win.
"It's killer, to be honest with you," said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. "With (Kansas City) now being nine points ahead ... we have to put together a run of wins that we haven't done this year."
That is true. The Earthquakes have only won back-to-back games once this season -- and that came in games one and two.
With the loss, San Jose stays in ninth place in the Western Conference -- now seven points behind the red playoff line with five games left on their regular season schedule.
The Quakes, who desperately needed a win to keep hope alive, haven’t won a match since Aug. 12 at Vancouver and haven’t won at home since July 16.
Dominic Dwyer opened the scoring about a minute after Quincy Amarikwa was carried off the field with a knee injury. Dwyer scored on a header in the seventh minute.
San Jose pulled that goal back when substitute Henok Goitom laid off a cheeky back heel to Simon Dawkins who tapped the ball over the goal line for the equalizer in the 42nd minute following a flicked header by Victor Bernardez.
But that would be all the offense San Jose could muster despite being the aggressors in the second half and throughout the match. The Quakes outshot Kansas City 16-6 and benefitted from eight more corner kicks.
"It's going to take a monumental effort," Kinnear said about San Jose's remaining playoff chances. "It's a pretty crushing result tonight."
The loss drops San Jose to 7-9-13; tied for fewest wins in the Western Conference.
Hot seat: A couple of weeks removed from the firing of general manager John Doyle, Kinnear was asked if he's feeling the pressure as his Quakes are on the verge of missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season under his command. "It's in the front of my mind," he said. "I'm trying to win games ... I'm not happy. If you think I just take it lightly, then you have no idea who I am. It's in the very front of my mind."
Attendance: Reported attendance at Avaya Stadium was 18,000. However, missing from the crowd were the San Jose Ultras -- the Earthquakes' main supporter group.
Up next: With the season in the balance, the Quakes have a middle-of-the-week match against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday in Canada.