Western Conference playoff qualification, which seemed a sure thing for the Earthquakes going into this month, is now far from a guarantee for San Jose.
The Quakes, winless in the past four games, are in a tight battle in the standings going into their Saturday home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Earthquakes (11-10-5, 38 points) hold a spot in the top seven in the West, which is the postseason cutoff, but that seems as if it will be difficult to maintain given their current form. Still, a win Saturday would keep them in playoff position as the MLS season heads down the stretch.
A loss or a draw, and San Jose could be on the outside looking in at the end of the weekend. And the Earthquakes were embarrassed by the top team in MLS, Los Angeles FC, losing 4-0 on Wednesday night with four players falling down trying to stop Carlos Vela on his way to a highlight-reel goal.
Quakes coach Matias Almeyda was ejected by officials during the game.
"We're creating chances and played an all-right game, but we had about seven or eight mental and physical lapses and they scored four," San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski said.
In an otherwise disappointing season for the Whitecaps, they've lost just once in the past four games with three of those contests on the road.
Vancouver (6-12-9, 27 points) sits in last place in the West. With only seven games left to play, the Whitecaps need to pile up points from wins and hope for a lot of help to somehow climb the standings.
"The last four games I think we've found ourselves again," Vancouver coach Marc Dos Santos said Tuesday. "The team right now felt good about the last four games, and hopefully it can continue."
The Whitecaps will play three games in eight days starting Saturday, as they will go across the continent to face Montreal on Wednesday before returning home to oppose New York City FC on Aug. 31.