Current Playoff Outlook: End of the Day
"I've seen the end of the day come too soon
Not a lot to say, not a lot to do
You played the game, you owe nothing to yourself
Rest a day, for tomorrow you can't tell"
These lyrics from "End of the Day," a song on Beck's achingly beautiful 2002 album Sea Change, ring true to me right now. In a season that itself was a sea change in the history of the Columbus Crew, the sun set too soon on this team. With their September revival, a team left for dead by many sparked the imagination of its fans, salvaged their season and proved to themselves that they could still compete with anyone in Major League Soccer.
For a majority of my readers, the team's long journey towards today was inevitable since June. My frequent poll question in this column, "Will the Crew make the playoffs?", was at first met with terribly pessimistic results- So much so that I abandoned the question altogether for weeks. In my most recent poll, however, 1 in 5 readers thought that the Crew would qualify. This was after my column made it painstakingly clear how many matches (8!) needed results to go the Crew's way for the post-season to be a reality. Many of these fans, myself included, clung to a hope that something magically improbable could still be developing here in Columbus. And while it could have, it did not.
So this sucks.
While there's an air of optimism in Crewville, the fact remains that this team will play its last match together on Sunday. This team, a team that suffered major injuries together, traveled together, underwent ownership and coaching changes and saw their scoreboard on fire about 40 minutes before a match, is about to play together one final time. The season also closes for the front office staff, who must feel the same "auditioning for your job" pressure as the coaches and players.
But in this column, I'm fan-centric. Specifically, Crew-fan-centric. The gut-sink that happens each year when the whistle blows and I know the Black & Gold won't be moving on in (or to) the MLS Playoffs is a specific kind of desperate sadness. This year's version includes much less losing-the-franchise paranoia, thanks to Anthony Precourt and PSV. On the other hand, there's a heavier component of "woulda/coulda/shoulda", especially around my frustration with the front office's unwillingness to make a coaching change in time to save the season. But that's me.
Beck's stanza above ends with "Rest a day, for tomorrow you can't tell." While I doubt anyone in the Crew organization will be out-and-out resting for a little while, it's certainly a time to reflect and catch a breath. The ongoing transformation of this soccer club will color the lives of Crew fans for years to come. It will be fascinating to see what things transpire... but for today and for this season, this end feels too soon.