SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anibal Godoy and the San Jose Earthquakes made the Western Conference playoff race just that much tighter Friday night with a 1-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City.
Godoy tapped home his second MLS goal in the 47th minute, moving San Jose (13-12-8) into a tie with Seattle and Portland on 47 points. The Quakes, who finish at conference leaders FC Dallas on Oct. 25, are giving a game in hand to every other Western team save Vancouver, and therefore still need some help to get into the postseason for the first time since 2012 -- although their chances would have been next to nil without three points Friday.
SKC (13-9-10) missed a chance to catch the second-place LA Galaxy and remain fourth in the West on 48 points. Conference leaders FC Dallas are now assured of a top-two seeding and a bye into the conference semifinals.
The Quakes welcomed midfielder back Fatai Alashe from international duty and tucked Marvell Wynne into the middle of their back line for the first time all season to cover for the suspended Victor Bernardez.
SKC made six changes from their winning side at Portland two weekends ago.
San Jose attacked vigorously from the outset, but were unable to break through during the first half. Shots from Shea Salinas, Matias Perez Garcia and Clarence Goodson all flew directly to SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia.
Melia might have gotten an unnoticed touch on Quincy Amarikwa’s 19-yard rip in the 20th minute, which flew over the crossbar. He definitely dropped down nicely to scoop a bending Salinas attempt from 20 yards in the 35th minute. Melia was whistled for a six-second call after that save, giving San Jose an indirect free kick near the right edge of the area, but Perez Garcia’s eventual delivery sprayed uncharacteristically wide.
Dom Dwyer stormed in on a breakaway opportunity in the ninth minute when the Quakes turned the ball over in their defensive third, but goalkeeper David Bingham sprang off his line to make a critical right-footed save.
The hosts picked up their pressure after intermission, and Godoy was rewarded after a pinging, cross-field buildup. Salinas sent in a long cross from the left-wing to an open Chris Wondolowski on the back post. The Quakes’ captain, having no real angle, sent the ball back across the face of goal. Melia and the SKC back line were unable to intercede, leaving Godoy free to score easily from 3 yards out.
SKC nearly replied in the 51st minute when Benny Feilhaber set Dwyer loose with a rolled through pass, but Bingham again ranged out to make the save.
Melia stayed on his feet to make a charging chest stop four minutes later when Amarikwa -- sprung from a long delivery by Alashe -- spun around Matt Besler and fired from the edge of the area.
Melia was once again in the right place in the 58th minute when Wondolowski’s trap of a Perez Garcia pass popped high into the air, setting him up for a spinning shot at 12 yards.
SKC coach Peter Vermes threw on all three subs -- including Krisztian Nemeth, fresh off his brace for Hungary in Euro 2016 qualifying -- by the 64th minute in hopes of turning the tide.
Feilhaber looped a 71st-minute delivery over the top to Mikey Lopez, who snuck behind his marker but pushed his header over the crossbar from 6 yards.
Melia dove smartly to body-block Perez Garcia’s 72nd-minute try from an Amarikwa pullback, with Amobi Okugo -- on for SKC captain Besler, who came up injured -- cleaning up the rebound.
Things grew progressively more chippy in the final 15 minutes, with Dwyer delivering a particularly nasty challenge in the 82nd minute, a clearout from behind on Wynne that earned a yellow card. But San Jose’s defense held firm. And the standings grew ever more compact.