SAN JOSE -- Midfielder Sam Cronin has a novel approach to the Earthquakes' final games of the 2013 season which they must win to make the Major League Soccer playoffs.

"It brings you to life a little bit," he said of the next four matches.

That's one way to describe it. Another would be, good luck with that.

San Jose (11-11-8) has no margin of error starting Sunday against last-place Chivas USA at StubHub Center in Carson. Even if San Jose finished with three victories and a tie it might miss the Western Conference playoffs by a point.

The Quakes are tied with the Vancouver Whitecaps in sixth place with 41 points. Five of the nine division teams will qualify for the postseason.

As improbable as it is, the Quakes are peaking with a 3-0-1 record in September in all competitions.

Although Chivas (8-16-8) is eliminated from the playoffs, San Jose defenders might be tested by Mexican striker Erick Torres. Torres, 20, has seven goals and one assist in 11 games since joining MLS in July.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.

sunday's game
Quakes (11-11-8) at Chivas USA (6-16-8), 8 p.m. CSNCA