Columbus Crew SC manager Gregg Berhalter called it a "great disappointment" to miss out of the playoffs one year after the club reached the MLS Cup final.
Berhalter's team was eliminated from playoff contention with two games to play after Thursday night's 2-2 draw at the MLS-worst Chicago Fire.
Asked after the game about the mood in the dressing room, Berhalter said, "It's disappointment, great disappointment."
"We had high expectations this season and it's plain and simple, we didn't meet those expectations and we're disappointed," he said.
"I told the guys it wasn't about tonight's game. If we would have had that type of intensity, that type of effort all season we would be having a different conversation."
Columbus failed to duplicate the success of last season, when it finished second in the Eastern Conference with 53 points and making it through two playoff series before falling to Portland in the final.
This season, Crew SC can do no better than 42 points, the same number held by sixth-place Philadelphia, who hold an advantage in wins -- the first playoff tiebreaker.
The Fire took the lead at 2-1 early in the second half, and though Adam Jahn equalised with his second goal of the game 10 minutes from time, Columbus could not find the winner that would have kept its season going.
"Everyone put their heart on the line right there. They gave it everything they had," midfielder Justin Meram said. "We tried to get the last one because we knew it would keep us alive.
"There were a lot of great chances that were just unlucky. The wrong bounce or you have a choice to make a run near post or far post and it was just opposite.
"But we left it all on the field. The fans, everyone should be proud."
Both Berhalter and Meram praised the effort from Jahn, who said he's seen improvement himself since San Jose traded him to Columbus in July.
"I have been really pleased so far with my time here," he said. "I think it's a professional environment, the people are great and they make me feel at home.
"I think I've gotten loads better within these last few months so I'm really excited to see what the future holds. But I'm grateful for this opportunity."