SEATTLE - The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs started off with a bang for Vancouver Whitecaps FC but on Thursday they ended with a whimper at CenturyLink Field.
The 'Caps went down to a 2-0 loss on the night, and on aggregate, to the Seattle Sounders, after an uninspired performance, and they looked outclassed by their Cascadian rivals at times over the 180 minutes of the tie.
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson felt his side "weren't quite good enough" to get the job done over the two legs, and it was a deflated Vancouver locker room at the final whistle, with a clear feeling that the Whitecaps let this opportunity slip away from them.
"We're pretty disappointed," said 'Caps keeper Stefan Marinovic. "We felt we sold ourselves a little bit short this last game. We can take solace though in how we performed throughout the season leading up to the end. But first feeling is disappointment."
The Whitecaps put out arguably their most attacking lineup, with influential midfielders Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera both cleared to start, but the duo couldn't add much spark to a Vancouver attack that struggled over both legs, managing just one shot on target over the two matches.
With Vancouver knowing they needed to score, it's not what Robinson needed from his side, but the 'Caps coach felt that while his key attacking pieces "were off it", Seattle's were the difference makers.
"It's not acceptable, because you need to put shots on target to score goals," Robinson said. "We got in some very good areas and we didn't execute. That's the difference between us and them today. They had a number of shots on goal, on target, and Clint [Dempsey] pops up with the two. The better team won over the two legs."
After falling short at the Conference Semifinal stage for the second time in three seasons, Robinson feels it's important the club recognizes where they are right now in the MLS pecking order and what they need to do to improve their status.
"We come up a bit short," Robinson noted. "We managed to win the playoff game against San Jose, which was great, but we've fallen short again this year. We know where we are. I won't fault the players in there. Sometimes you have to accept where you are in football.
"We know where we are as a club, which is fine, but we did come up a little bit short. So we'll have to get our thinking caps on, we'll have to go back to the well and see what we can do, because we need to come back better next year because that's the level we want to try and achieve."
That was a sentiment echoed by Whitecaps captain Kendall Waston, who refused to be too down about the 'Caps season ending, preferring to look at what it could mean for the club going forward.
"Obviously everybody's sad about the result," Waston said. "We can't go out of here with our heads down. We do have to be proud of the season that we made this year. We have things to improve on and this bad feeling has to help us to know what to do and take this as an experience thing for next year."