After Saturday's 4-2 playoff defeat to the New England Revolution, the Columbus Crew locker room was not a pleasant place. After two months of music playing, players joking, and an all around positive attitude, it was clear to see this was the antithesis of what had been expected.
"It's embarrassing," midfielder Justin Meram opened his comments to the media.
"Everyone was, all the fans, everybody, was all excited for us and we disappointed everybody. Given up four goals, was that the first time all year? I don't even know. At home? That's just unacceptable especially in the format where away goals count."
Meram, who scored the Crew's first goal to cut the deficit to 2-1, was not the only embarrassed player. Fellow midfielder Tony Tchani sat at his locker, unshowered, with his head in a towel well after the final whistle blew. Attacker Federico Higuain refused to talk to the media and changed and exited in near silence.
Everyone knew the effort, the execution was a major letdown.
"Extremely disappointing. In our performance as a team tonight," midfielder Ethan Finlay said. "That's not the type of soccer we want to play. I don't think the conditions really had anything to do with it. I think we just came out flat and we paid for it."
Despite the frustration, there was no room for excuses in the locker room. Players were asked about the team's inexperience in the post season, but no one would use that as justification. No one would admit if the conditions - a cold and wet late afternoon - played a part in their game.
No matter what the reason, it was clear this was not the same Columbus team that entered the playoffs hot and had already beaten this New England side twice during the regular season. It was not what the team expected of themselves.
"We were confident," Finlay said. "We felt good coming into this game. We had a lot of guys that had really poor performances, myself included, today and when we're not clicking that's the type of poor performance we put out. It's extremely disappointing."
No matter how upset the players were, they would not concede this series is over. While they admitted this will be a tough loss to overcome, they believe this team can go to New England next weekend and get the necessary result.
"Three goals. 3-0, that's the goal," said Finlay. "Nothing else is acceptable. We won't be thinking about anything else and we know the task at hand and they do too."
Meram agreed with his fellow winger, stating the team remains faithful.
"We still have faith," he said. "We can put three goals. So we've just got to look and be really offensive next week."
It will be a tall order on Sunday, as Columbus must win the game by three goals, something they did three time this season. Yet it could have been worse had it not been for a late Higuain penalty kick that pulled the game to 4-2.
"It says we know that we can still win this and we can still advance," Finlay said of fighting to earn a late goal.
"It's never over ‘til it's over. Philly a couple of weeks ago, everyone thought that game was over and we were able to overcome that. I've been a believer ever since then and I very much believe we can do that. It's going to be tough but we're capable."
The Black and Gold said after the game they expect the Revolution to play a more defensive game next week, while they will have to throw numbers forward in order to get the necessary result. They will have to live by the old adage, one goal at a time.
"We're not going to go in and say three goals in the first half," Finlay said.
"That'd be great but it's getting one early and probably going from there. We'll see what happens."
Disappointed but not defeated, the Crew have a chance to make things right.