Jeremy Ebobisse scored his ninth goal of the season, Rodrigues added the eventual matchwinner and the San Jose Earthquakes defeated visiting Real Salt Lake 2-1 on Saturday night to snap a four-match winless run.
Cristian Espinoza picked up his team-leading ninth and 10th assists on those early first-half goals, which were enough to secure a result that pushed San Jose (10-9-10, 40 points) up one spot to seventh in the Western Conference in a crowded Western Conference playoff race.
The top nine teams in each conference reach the postseason, with the top seven avoiding a play-in game. San Jose is looking for its first playoff appearance in three seasons and its first in a regulation 34-game season since 2017.
Cristian Arango scored his fourth league goal just before halftime for RSL (11-10-7, 40 points), which has lost three of its last four since midfielder Pablo Ruiz suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Salt Lake remains above San Jose in the standings in sixth on the first tiebreak of total wins but missed a chance to move as high as third with a victory.
Ebobisse put San Jose in front with only about 100 seconds of the game played.
Cade Cowell helped create the goal when he turned over an RSL player on the left flank and then fed Ebobisse in central midfield.
Ebobisse then played a slick give-and-go with Espinoza before slotting a low finish past Zac MacMath.
Rodrigues doubled the lead in the 15th minute on a scrappier second goal that stemmed from a partial clearance of Espinoza’s corner kick.
Espinoza reached the loose ball following the corner on the right wing and sent in a low cross to the near post, where Rodrigues narrowly beat his marker to redirect it with an extended leg past MacMath.
Arango pulled a goal back in the 44th when he was first to the rebound of Rubio Rubin’s header that Daniel pushed onto the crossbar.
After halftime, Arango provided the service on RSL’s best chance to equalize, but Jefferson Savarino sent his 74th-minute header wide of the back post.
–Field Level Media
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