Despite building a two-goal lead late in the second half, the Philadelphia Union were unable to hang on and fell 3-2 to the Columbus Crew before a crowd of 15,849 Saturday night at PPL Park.
The Union (9-11-12, 39 points) were officially eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs with two matches remaining.
Danny Cruz sparked the Union as a second half substitute and gave the club a 1-0 advantage in the 69th minute following a crisp cross by Fabinho.
When Andrew Wenger tapped in a goal in the 75th minute for a 2-0 lead, the fans erupted.
But goals by Ethan Finlay (78th), Justin Meram (80th) and Jairo Arrieta (83rd) gave the Crew (12-10-10, 46 points) a stunning come-from-behind victory.
“We didn’t have a killer instinct to kill off the game,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said. “We lack that. We’ve lacked that this year.”
Following a three-match winning streak, the Union have gone 0-2-3 in the last five. As a result, they’ll be out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
“To be honest, we’re not a playoff team,” Curtin said. “That’s clear. Over the course of 32 games now, we’ve come up short.”
Cruz said the reasons for the loss were pretty difficult to stomach.
“It’s pretty rough,” Cruz said. “You put yourselves in a position to be successful. You can’t make that many mistakes. You can’t give up that many goals in five minutes. You can’t do that at home.”
The Union will close out the regular season against Sporting Kansas City Oct. 18 at PPL Park and then at Columbus on Oct. 26.
For now, the players are struggling to come to grips with what transpired.
“That’s soccer sometimes,” midfielder Maurice Edu said. “They always say 2-0 is like the worst lead to have. Again, it’s disappointing because I thought we put a lot of effort and a lot of energy into that game. To get two goals and to have it taken away just like that in a matter of minutes is really disappointing. What a rough way to lose a game.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org