John Hackworth didn't mince words after his team's crushing loss on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia's team manager gave a frank assessment of his team's fading playoff chances.
"You know, I'm the eternal optimist, but I would say that I'm not stupid either," Hackworth told reporters following the 2-1 home defeat to 10-man Columbus. "Unless we go on some amazing run – tonight was a game where we had to get three points and have a six point swing. I don't think (the playoffs are) a possibility anymore. I think we should stop talking about it, personally. I think we should concentrate on playing good soccer the rest of the way, seeing how many points we can get, what position we can put ourselves in, improve and build towards the future."
Wednesday night's stoppage time loss widens the gap between Philadelphia and Columbus to 14 points. The eighth place Union missed an opportunity to draw to within eight points of the Crew.
With ten games left, Hackworth's team needs a phenomenal stretch run to have any chance of earning back-to-back post-season berths.
"I would tell you that I think we're going to continue to push, and play the same style of soccer and give it everything we have, and I think it's going to fall sometime soon," said Hackworth. "Maybe that puts us on the most amazing 10 game unbeaten streak ever, and I'll be eating my own words. But all I can do is make sure that those guys in the locker room know that we're playing the right way. At some point when guys start to make plays, when guys execute, and we certainly didn't do enough of that tonight - it'll be a much different conversation that we're having."
For the players, there's no other option – it's about finishing strong.
"We have to keep working, you know?", explained captain and goal scorer Carlos Valdes, who left the game in the second half with a hamstring tweak. "We (still) have some chances to be in the playoffs. We know it's going to be hard but we have to keep working."
"We just gotta keep doing the same things," added winger Danny Cruz. "Obviously we have to work on our finishing. But we've got to try to stay positive, and at least at this point keep pushing for the playoffs until mathematically we're out. "(We've got to) play for the fans, because that's what makes this organization great. I can't stress that enough."