Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee waved his arm in the air after New York's second goal of Sunday's 5-2, season-ending loss, signaling to the assistant referee to make some sort of call to keep the game level.
The plea was more wishful thinking than anything — Magee knew any deficit in front of a sell-out crowd at Red Bull Arena would be extremely difficult to overcome.
“I was looking for anything,” Magee told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “To be fair, that was a prayer.”
Things only got worse after Ibrahim Sekagya poked in the second goal on a rebound after a Sean Johnson save to make the score 2-1 in the 49th minute. The Fire had a few chances after the goal, but New York were able to add another seven minutes later when Lloyd Sam curled a shot inside the far post.
At that point, Magee knew chances were slim.
“We didn't have the right mentality to dig ourselves out of any holes, so once we went down, we were still creating some chances," he said, "but obviously when the third one goes in, the stadium kind of erupted and their players were confident as they could possibly be. At 3-1, and it was going to be too difficult I think.”
The win was New York's sixth in eight games and gave them the Supporters' Shield. Against the hottest team in MLS, the Fire couldn't muster more than a late goal by Quincy Amarikwa when they were already down four.
“To be fair to our team, I think New York was clearly the better team, especially playing at home on the roll they've been on," Magee said. "But the hardest part is the way we played. In my opinion, I feel like we laid down a little bit, and we lacked a little bit of heart.
"In the situation we were in, With the players they have, I think the one thing we needed to bring was a little more heart when we went down. I think we let ourselves down in that category.”
After coming back from a 2-7-1 start to put themselves in playoff position entering the final day of the season, all the Fire needed to extend their season was a tie.
But the dream turnaround wasn't to be. The task of taking a point from New York when they had their first ever trophy on the line was simply too difficult.
“To be quite honest, it's heartbreaking. It's extremely disappointing,” Magee said. “[New York] is the best team in the league right now. There's no question about it. They have the most points in the league over this last month or so, they have the most class, and that's why they've got the Supporters' Shield.
"It's disappointing, but in all reality, I think our best chance was for Columbus or D.C. to get a result.”