Toronto FC may have lost 3-1 to the New England Revolution tonight, but they still managed to have one of their best games of the season.
"My honest opinion was that I thought it was one of the best performances that we've had all year," said Greg Vanney in his press conference after the match. "But sometimes the ball doesn't go in the back of the net."
"We all have a similar feeling," said Michael Bradley, agreeing with his coach's assessment. "I thought we played very well, in terms of our ideas and our movement and sharpness."
That was the message Toronto FC wanted to convey after the match, that losing to the New England Revolution isn't the end of the world especially with the way they played.
If this is some of the best that we can expect out of Toronto FC, then this story doesn't end well. Whether or not this team makes the playoffs there will not be a happy ending.
Taking the positives out of a game are fine, especially with the quick turnaround Toronto FC has before they play New York City on Wednesday. But with the playoffs are just around the corner, and Toronto FC are mired in an early season mentality.
From every aspect tonight's game should have been treated like a playoff bout. During the match it looked like it was, the players stepped up their game and really took it to New England for the majority of the 90 minutes.
But after a playoff loss teams rarely talk about the positives, the team's performance would be secondary to the loss. The bottom line would be that it wasn't good enough, and that wasn't emphasized enough today.
In truth this game was a missing opportunity, something Vanney did admit, providing the most accessible wrung to climbing up the ladder into a home playoff spot.
Toronto may still be a comfortable five points into a playoff spot, but they are six points away, albeit with a game in hand, from an automatic playoff game at home.
It's okay though, because Toronto FC still have time. There is nothing to worry about, mistakes can still be made and the door is still wide open for the team to enter the home playoff race discussion. Or so it would seem if you asked Vanney.
"Desperate to get into the home (playoff) position? I don't think so, not yet," said Vanney after the match. "Again we have a favourable schedule in terms of home matches."
It's the lack of desperation that is so concerning. A team that has never been to the playoffs before, and are still far from being guaranteed entry this time around, should be a lot angrier about a loss like this.
On the field Toronto FC truly came close to winning tonight's game. All the stats: the possession, the shots on goal, the shots conceded, would suggest they were the better team.
When it came to the post game, however, Toronto FC showed just how far away they are from the sort of black and white win/loss mentality that is required in the playoffs.
That is why this match was so concerning, the impact it had on the standings, or even the boneheaded defensive plays that led to the loss are ultimately secondary.