SAN JOSE -- Everything seems to conspire against the Earthquakes.

The streaking Los Angeles Galaxy had four players called to national team duty this week but they won't depart until after playing San Jose on Saturday night in Carson.

It's just another example of how the wobbly Quakes (9-10-7) can't catch a break this Major League Soccer season.

With eight games remaining, they cling to hopes of reaching the five-team Western Conference playoffs. But a loss at StubHub Center against one of the league's premier teams decreases their marginal chances dramatically.

After tying last weekend at FC Dallas the Earthquakes probably need to win six of the final eight league games to reach the playoffs a year after winning the Supporters' Shield.

It won't be easy against the two-time reigning MLS champion Galaxy (12-9-4), which has stars Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo available before they leave for World Cup qualifying games.

Donovan, who recently signed a big multi-year contract, has four goals in the past three games as the Galaxy has gone 2-0-1 this month in MLS action.

San Jose, meanwhile, won't have Victor Bernardez and Justin Morrow (red cards) and Rafael Baca (yellow cards) for the California Classico.

And Friday interim coach Mark Watson revealed seldom-used midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy is out for the season after suffering another anterior cruciate ligament injury two weeks ago. Ballouchy, a former Santa Clara star who came to the Quakes in a trade last summer with the New York Red Bulls, also suffered a season-ending ACL tear in October.

Watson is considering two options for the central midfield but declined to say exactly what they are. The coach only said Honduran Walter Martinez is among the possible replacements.

"He's got experience, good energy and a good work rate," Watson said of a player who has been slowed by injury.

The roster losses don't engender much confidence the Quakes can overcome road struggles -- one victory in all competitions this year. The Earthquakes looked flat in the second half in a 1-0 defeat to CD Heredia on Wednesday night in a CONCACAF Champions League game in Guatemala City.

Former starter Jason Hernandez probably will play center back in Bernardez's absence the next two weeks. (Bernardez and Marvin Chavez will miss next weekend's home game while playing for Honduras in World Cup qualifying games.) Midfielder Shea Salinas also is available after sitting out a week because of a hamstring muscle strain.

San Jose is 4-1-1 in MLS since mid July. But it is 1-3-1 in its past five games in all competitions.

"We go into the game to be tough to play against and hopefully take our chance when we get it," Watson said.

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

saturday's game

Earthquakes (9-10-7) at Los Angeles (12-9-4), 7:30 p.m. CSN Plus