San Jose Earthquakes suffered a blow in their hopes for post-season football in the Western Conference, losing 2-1 to bottom-placed Houston Dynamo.
After San Jose failed to clear their lines from a corner in the sixth minute, Darwin Ceren was unable to dispatch Cristian Maidana’s return ball in, with an unmarked Ricardo Clark driving home the deflected cross.
The Earthquakes had the bulk of possession and shots on goal in search of an equaliser, but Houston eventually doubled the margin through David Horst five minutes after the interval, with Maidana’s delivery from the dead-ball again creating havoc.
Alberto Quintero provided the assist for Victor Bernardez, to pull a goal back for San Jose four minutes later, but lowly Dynamo held out to snap a six-game winless streak.
It was one of two games in hand for San Jose over reigning MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers, who sit a point ahead in the sixth and final play-off spot in the west on 32 points.
The result opens the door for Vancouver Whitecaps, sitting on 30 points with the equal 25 games played to Portland.
With 10 games remaining for Dominic Kinnear’s Earthquakes, they have now only claimed one win in their past five MLS matches.