SANTA CLARA -- Justin Braun scored in the seventh minute and Chivas USA beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, on Saturday night to clinch its third straight MLS playoff appearance.
Braun took a long pass down the left side of the field from Alecko Eskandarian and drilled a hooking shot past goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
Chivas USA (12-10-6) has won four straight matches and six of its last seven. The win put Chivas a point behind Houston for the first place in the Western Conference.
The loss left San Jose (7-11-9) almost completely out of contention for a playoff spot. The Earthquakes were trying to become the first MLS expansion team to earn a playoff spot in 10 years.
San Jose had made a late playoff run, earning points in 10 of the team's last 12 matches after beginning the season with just one win in its first seven. The loss to Chivas left the Earthquakes in sixth place, a point ahead of the Galaxy.
The Earthquakes almost tied the game in the 89th minute when Ned Grabavoy narrowly missed a free kick that curved past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.