CHESTER, Pa. -- It has become an all-too-familiar trend for the Earthquakes.
The Quakes came out flat Sunday night in yet-another must-win game against a Philadelphia Union team that had struggled to win at home.
The Earthquakes found themselves in a quick two-goal hole that seemed insurmountable until Sam Cronin and Chris Wondolowski scored 11 minutes apart to tie it, only to promptly give a goal back less than two minutes later and eventually fall 4-2.
Quakes coach Mark Watson and his players used similar words to describe their feelings: "Frustrating. ... Disappointing. ... Not good enough."
Especially if the Quakes (6-10-7, 25 points) have any hopes of reaching the Western Conference playoffs. They trail Vancouver by eight points for the fifth and final postseason spot, with Portland (31) and Colorado (30) in between. The Earthquakes are winless in their past four games.
"We know we have to pick up points now to get our way back in," said Watson, whose club led MLS in fewest goals allowed before this current 10-goals-in-the-last-three-games stretch. "It's not an insurmountable gap, but it's getting to the point of the season where we have to pick up points.
"It's just disappointing to claw our way back into a game and then let it slip away so quickly."
No one was more disgusted than goalkeeper Jon Busch, who was bombarded with 12 shots, most of them quality chances.
"We've got some (stuff) to figure out," Busch said after losing to a team that he had allowed only three goals in six previous outings while going 4-1-1. "We felt good going into this game, had a good day of training yesterday, and we come out flat.
"That's happened too often this season. I don't know if it's a mental thing or what, but it's not good enough."
The Quakes will need to take a good look in the mirror between now and Saturday's home game against Real Salt Lake if they hope to reverse this downward trend.
As encouraged as they were with the comeback, letting Philadelphia's Sheanon Williams get loose in the box to head home Sebastien Le Toux's free kick in the 72nd minute, before Andrew Wenger's second goal of the night on a breakaway put it away, was disheartening.
"We've got a tired, frustrated group right now," Watson said. "We just seem to not be doing the little things to win games.
"That's not an excuse, because everyone has to travel in this league. Our guys fought through it, had a great response, then just fell asleep on a wide free kick."
Real Salt Lake (11-5-9) at Earthquakes (6-10-7), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA