Today was the last time Toronto FC were guaranteed to play at BMO Field this year, and they did little to insure they will return when the playoffs open.
A win would have meant at the very least a wildcard game in Toronto, at best it could have meant skipping that first round altogether and heading into the home and away Conference Semi-finals.
Instead, a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew today means Toronto FC will have to head into their final game of the season against the Montreal Impact needing a result to lock up home field advantage. In the playoffs.
After a storybook night on Wednesday, Toronto FC were brought back down to earn by a result that looked far more like the TFC of old than the group that beat the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
"I thought we weren't as sharp as we needed to be with the ball," said Greg Vanney after the match. "I thought there were too many missed passes, short passes and straight passes."
A first half goal from Ethan Finlay proved to be too much for TFC to overcome, as they allowed another from Federico Higuain when they were trying to push up their attack.
The goal, however, was not without controversy, as the corner kick on which it was scored was awarded after Justin Morrow was shoved from behind. It appeared to be a foul, but the referee didn't make the call.
"You have to protect the outside backs on the weak side because they don't know what is happening behind them," said Greg Vanney, speaking from experience as a former outside back himself.
The match proved just how key Jonathan Osorio has become to this team, who wasn't cleared to play after taking a Herculez Gomez free kick to the head. Osorio's ability to beat players in the midfield was greatly missed today, acknowledged Greg Vanney.
More importantly, however, Toronto FC were never really able to get their danger man, Sebastian Giovinco, involved in the attack. Part of that was the club's poor passing, as aforementioned by Vanney.
Part of it was also Giovinco, though, as the Italian looked like all of the travel he has underwent in the past few days finally caught up with him. The Italian was frustrated throughout, something that boiled over as he had a go at several Columbus Crew defenders.
"I thought he was getting hung up a little too much between the centrebacks," said Vanney. "They were able to kind of just stay tight to him and man mark him too much."
On the positive side, the match did give Toronto a chance to run out some players who could give them different options in the playoffs.
Herculez Gomez, Luke Moore, Eriq Zavaleta, Robbie Findley and Joe Bendik all got minutes when they haven't appeared much as of late.
"It felt great, I mean personally it was wonderful to play again," said Bendik, who hadn't played since August 15th, who talked about being ready in case he got an unlikely chance in the playoffs.
While it wasn't a positive result, you can't blame the players for having a hard time looking at the negatives. The team has been on a roll lately, and one loss doesn't change that fact.
"[This loss] won't take anything away from the past stretch," said Bradley. "We will go into the last game and the playoffs with a lot of confidence and excitement knowing that we have a good team."
Toronto FC have claimed 12 of a possible 15 points in this recent stretch of home games, which has been a microcosm of the entire season.
While Toronto will end its regular season home stretch on a sour note, it really has become a fortress for them again, as the team went an impressive 11 wins 5 losses and 1 draw at BMO Field.
That's why it is so important that the club ensures they get a home playoff game. Not only will it give long suffering Toronto supporters something to celebrate, it means a better chance Toronto FC will advance.