It couldn't have been that easy, could it?
As fans of D.C. United for the last five years, we've learned that nothing will be handed to us. We can't just sit back and watch other teams falter while we stroll into the playoffs despite some underwhelming performances.
United could have essentially clinched a playoff berth yesterday if Sporting Kansas City had held on for a win against the Columbus Crew. Had Jimmy Nielsen kept his clean sheet for just a few more minutes, United's match against the Crew on the 20th would have been rendered meaningless in terms of playoff qualification for D.C.
Eddie Gaven had something to say about that.
As they've been prone to do frequently this season, the Crew grabbed a late goal to preserve a result. This time it was a header from Gaven in the 91st minute that stole a point from the East's leaders and kept the Crew's playoff hopes alive, leaving just one point behind the Houston Dynamo.
The tie in Columbus means that D.C. United now needs at least one point from one of its next two matches to secure a return to the MLS playoffs. The match against the Crew on Oct. 20 gives United the opportunity to beat down their opposition in the friendly confines of RFK Stadium, where United is undefeated since March. But if things somehow do go wrong against Columbus, United will have one final chance to clinch a playoff spot on the road against the Chicago Fire on Oct. 27. A draw in either match would ensure that United finishes no lower than fifth place in the East. But with the team currently sitting in third, our sites should still be set much higher.