But for a wonder goal and a howler at one end and a huge save at the other, they might still be among MLS' unbeaten sides after three matches.
They're choosing to look at it – publicly, at least – as less a painful what-if than a reminder: As the Quakes try to break a four-year postseason drought this season, their new-look side can hang with a strong veteran club in a hostile atmosphere.
“We are strong enough,” forward Marcos Urena said after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat. “We came in here with two wins and we’re on the road. It’s not easy to come to Kansas City. They’re a good team with good players. The way they play, they know how to play together, they have a group of players that have been playing for a long time together.
“So it’s difficult to handle against teams like this, but I think we did great and almost got the draw and now this gives us more motivation for the next game.”
The Earthquakes also move forward with full confidence in goalkeeper David Bingham, who had a rough night in his last outing before being called into the US national team camp for a crucial pair of World Cup qualifiers against Honduras (Friday, 10:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMas in US) and at Panama.
Bingham got caught wrong-footed on Benny Feilhaber's looping shot from distance in the 37th minute, then deflected in Soony Saad's hard, spinning shot in the 89th, a mistake that put San Jose in a 2-0 hole before their late rally.
“The one thing about David is – I’ve seen it from afar – he’s saved this team on many occasions,” Earthquakes assistant coach John Spencer said. “So if he makes a mistake tonight and he holds his hand up, he’s been a wonderful player for this club for a few years now and I think it will be the same this year.”
Defender Florian Jungwirth slipped his mark and scored off a set piece in the 90th minute, and Sporting needed Tim Melia's big save on Simon Dawkins' shot in the second minute of stoppage time to keep the Earthquakes from equalizing at the death.
“With two weeks’ time, we will do video next week to see what we can do better and what we did bad,” Jungwirth said. “But I think the first two games have shown that we are good, and I’m confident that we will continue that and hopefully we will start in New York with the next road trip game.”