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San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski twice punishes Real Salt Lake, whose playoff hopes continue to slip away

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San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza (10) celebrates with forward Chris Wondolowski, who scored a goal against the Real Salt Lake during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in San Jose, Calif.

Josie Lepe, AP

Desperate for points to climb back into an MLS Playoff position, Real Salt Lake struggled to deal with San Jose’s unique style for most of the match on Wednesday and now finds itself in an even more desperate situation with time nearly out in the 2020 season.

San Jose scored early and then added another late goal on its way to a 2-0 win over RSL, which was shutout for the second straight game with the season on the line.

With the loss, Real Salt Lake remains in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot out of a playoff position with two games remaining.

RSL stays on 22 points in the standings, two behind eighth-place Vancouver and now five behind seventh-place San Jose. It was Real Salt Lake that had a chance to climb into seventh place with a win, but a poor start on the road prevented those hopes.

RSL’s dwindling playoff hopes now hinge on its final two games of the season, where maximum points will be required at the L.A. Galaxy this Sunday and then at home against Kansas City next Sunday in the regular season finale.

San Jose scored just 16 minutes into the match as Chris Wondolowski did what he’s been doing for the past 16 years, he poached a goal.

After Andrew Putna’s fingertips pushed a shot from Cristian Espinoza into the left post, the rebound came back out across the face of goal straight to a wide-open Wondolowski who tapped it in for his 164th career goal.

San Jose stayed on the front foot for 20 additional minutes after scoring with RSL having a very difficult time playing out of the high pressure.

Over the final 10 minutes of the half, however, RSL started to figure a few things out and created a couple of decent scoring chances.

The momentum didn’t really carry over into the second half though for the visitors, with coach Freddy Juarez resorting to substitutions to try and change the pace of the game by inserting Pablo Ruiz and Justin Meram for Everton Luiz and Maikel Chang.

Instead of it sparking RSL, it was San Jose that doubled its advantage in the 74th minute with Wondolowski adding his second goal by smashing a shot into an open net after a cross bounced off the heal of Justen Glad and straight to the unmarked Wondolowski.

San Jose finished the match with a 13-9 advantage in shots, but none of RSL’s nine shots were on target.