In a weekend where DC United, Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC all lost, the Columbus Crew had a real chance to gain ground on the leaders in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, they dropped points themselves, losing 2-0 to last-place Montreal Impact to miss out on a golden opportunity.
"We're disappointed, that's definitely the case," head coach Gregg Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. "I think we could have had a better attitude, a more killer instinct. Because the door was wide open."
The Crew came into the match with plenty of momentum, having notched convincing three-goal wins against the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo in their two previous matches.
For a young Crew team, was it a case of the classic trap game after two quality wins?
"I think in a nutshell, yes," Berhalter said. "But that's not giving Montreal enough credit for playing a very good game. They were very solid defensively, the counter-attack was on, and they had individual class with [Ignacio] Piatti. I think it's definitely a letdown game, but we're going to be ready to play and improved next Sunday."
Offensively, the Crew were on a roll, having scored seven goals in their last two matches. But the things that they did right against LA and Houston weren't there in Montreal.
"I think when it came down to the final ball, some of our decision-making up there often went to turnovers," striker Aaron Schoenfeld said. "You just can't turn over the ball in good areas."
In what has become a recurring theme of the Crew's season, Berhalter attributed the loss largely to a bad mindset.
"We weren't sharp enough," Berhalter said. "Credit Montreal for playing a good game, but I don't want to start comparing performances. I look at this performance, and we should have been better. We should have been better."
The loss killed the momentum the club had gained in its previous two weeks, and Schoenfeld summed the loss up simply.
"It's frustrating coming off two good wins," he said. "But we just didn't bring it tonight. It just wasn't good enough."
Berhalter had no illusions about where his team sits after Saturday's defeat, as reloaded New England, talented New York and surging Philadelphia bear down behind them.
"We know exactly what we're in for; it's going to be a dogfight," Berhalter said. "It's going to be really tight these last eight games, extremely tight, and there are going to be some small margins."