San Jose's Chris Wondolowski and Sporting Kansas City's Teal Bunbury scored within a minute of each other as the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
Wondolowski, the Earthquakes' leading scorer, broke open what had been a dreary match in the 85th minute by burying a left-footed volley at the far post off a long cross from Steven Beitashour for his 12th goal of the season.
Bunbury responded in the 86th minute, running onto a bouncing lead pass from C.J. Sapong and hammering it past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
Kansas City (11-9-12) moved two points ahead of second-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference.
San Jose (6-11-14) failed to win for the 17th time in 18 matches and fell near mathematic elimination from the 10-team playoff chase.
The Earthquakes had possession for most of the match, especially in the first half, but didn't record a shot on goal until the 67th minute.
After Wondolowski's score, Sapong took a quick restart, held off one San Jose defender and dribbled past two others to create space, then fed the ball to Bunbury, who went far post from 8 yards for the equalizer.