Two draws that killed a season

STEVEN SANDOR, 24 HOURS TORONTO

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

The MLS playoff race showed us one thing: This season, there was one clear elite team -- the Columbus Crew -- and 13 other franchises that really all could beat each other on their given days.

With the playoff race being as wide open as it was -- with no teams being eliminated until last weekend -- TFC fans are left asking what could have been.

Despite not losing in over a month's worth of games, TFC were knocked out of the playoff chase Saturday when Kansas City got a 93rd minute goal off a corner to beat San Jose. With one game left, TFC is four points behind the No. 7 and No. 8 wild-card slots.

Basically, the line between making the playoffs and being a bottom-feeder in the MLS is very thin. And, in a season filled with late-game collapses and one-goal losses, it's easy for the Reds to pick out spots on the schedule where they lost vital points.

But, I will point to two key games.

In July, Toronto hosted the expansion San Jose Earthquakes and got only a 0-0 draw, made all the more painful because Amado Guevara failed to convert a penalty.

And, two weeks ago, Toronto had a 2-1 lead at FC Dallas after 90 minutes. But, in added time, Julius James was adjudged to have fouled Adrian Serioux in the box, and Kenny Cooper got Dallas the draw with the resulting penalty kick.

If those two draws would have been wins, well, Toronto has four more points -- and the best fans this city has to offer are anticipating a cold November BMO Field playoff game, with the winds howling off Lake Ontario.

So, what's left for TFC? To do what the Edmonton Oilers have done in the NHL; carry a great late-season run from one season into a great start the next. Or, compare it to Hoffenheim in Germany or Hull City in England, who took the steam they gathered in promotion seasons into their debut campaigns in the top flights.

"If we don't make the playoffs, we have to carry forward this momentum into next season," said TFC all-star Jim Brennan after Saturday's win over Chicago.

"This has been a bigger challenge than I thought," said coach John Carver of his first season. "I thought the team would get better quicker." 


Videos

Photos