As the final whistle blew to end Wednesday's loss to FC Dallas, so did the hopes of the Columbus Crew of playing at Pizza Hut Park in MLS Cup 2005.
The Crew took an early lead, as David Testo gave them a 17th-minute lead. But FCD got a goal from Bobby Rhine in the 57th minute to level the score, then a dagger from Ramon Nunez sealed the game for the Hoops in stoppage time and eliminated the Crew from the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Columbus had the first chance of the night to seize the advantage in the ninth minute, as Jamal Sutton went in one-on-one with FCD goalkeeper Scott Garlick.
"That was a chance that you have to score," said Crew interim head coach Robert Warzycha. "If that ball goes in and it might have been the difference. You know what, the goalie is a good goalie and he saved that shot."
The Black-and-Gold controlled much of the play in the early minutes of the match, knowing they could afford even to tie if they wanted to reach the playoffs. And they got the early goal they wanted when Testo scored.
"Relieving, but as good as it felt I would rather have a win," said Testo of how he felt about scoring his first of the season. "The ball just came and I was pretty wide open, kind of had an out of body experience."
In the 32nd minute, Testo turned defender and saved a sure goal from Steve Jolley and kept the Red-and-White off the board.
"That was fortunate also. I think he might have looked up and there wasn't many places to go and he happened to hit it right at me," said Testo.
Bobby Rhine got the home team on the board with a beautiful right-footed blast that Jonny Walker could only watch go to the back of the net.
"It sort of took the momentum away," said forward Cornell Glen. "We didn't really keep the ball as much as we should have, we didn't stick to our game plan, and we played good in spurts. We need to play better for longer periods during the game."
Nunez showed his worth in stoppage time when he blasted a long-range shot past Walker and killed any chances of the Crew going to the postseason. But the Crew had plenty of chances to score and put the home team on their heels, reeling off 13 shots in the game.
"There were a lot of chances on both sides but we had the 100 percent chances where we had one against one with the goalie and we hit the post and a few other ones," said Warzycha. "You have to finish your chances to win the game, and if you don't they will hurt you in the end, and that is what happened today.
"The thing is, we give up too many goals in the last minute and that can't happen."
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.