It only took a few seconds after the final whistle for The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony" to begin playing at Red Bull Arena. The 1997 classic has notoriety in Harrison, as it's the signal of the end of another New York Red Bulls playoff campaign. An all-too-late flurry Sunday night from the Red Bulls saw them come inches from holding on against the Columbus Crew, but the 1-0 victory left them on the wrong side of a 2-1 aggregate series score.

"I would just like to start off by saying I apologize to our fans," opened a somber Dax McCarty in the locker room after the match. "They were fantastic all season-the ones that stuck by us. I really appreciate them supporting us when it was a tough time and they didn't have to come back, but they did, and I think they were brilliant, and they deserve more. I think for the most part, we just didn't play well, this entire series."

Despite being handily beaten in the first leg, the Red Bulls made no significant tactical changes, and Jesse Marsch stuck with the same starting eleven that had served him well most of the season. But they once again ran into a disciplined Columbus side that absorbed their pressure, forced turnovers of their own, and swarmed downfield in transition.

The flow of the game was not helped by referee Baldomero Toledo, who took the "let the players play" line of thinking to the extreme. Hard tackles went unpunished, and the cards were largely kept in his pocket despite issuing multiple warnings to the Crew for time wasting.

"It seemed more physical than any other series," said midfielder Lloyd Sam. "It was probably more physical than the D.C. series, they were up for the play."

It would take around 80 minutes for New York would find their rhythm. By then, the stadium was already starting to empty, and the noise in the stadium was starting to wane. But the crowd roared back to life as the Red Bulls finally broke the deadlock in stoppage time, as Anatole Abang headed home a pivotal goal.

With just two minutes left, those still in the stadium were then treated to one of those historic bounces that have come to define the club. In the 95th minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips found enough space to get a header off that went past Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark—but then bounced off the post and away.

"We were inches away from taking this to extra time," said McCarty. "For as bad as we played throughout the whole series, that's how thin the margins are. We just didn't have any good fortune or any good bounces and that's how the game goes."

Even Columbus attacker Kei Kamara had his heart in his throat. "It was definitely one of those moments where I was saying, 'that's impossible, they cannot happen. There's no way they can get another goal.' Ref already said four minutes of overtime so there's no way another goal could come and then that ball hit the post."

Seconds later, the whistle would blow, and hopes of a first MLS Cup for the long suffering red part of New York would be dashed once more.

With the campaign in the books, the Red Bulls will begin focusing on player deals and building for next year. Coach Jesse Marsch acknowledged that it would be hard to keep this team exactly as it is: "This team will never be together as it exists now and it's hard to know that, because I love this team, I love how all these players have committed themselves to the mission of what we've tried to accomplish...now when the offseason comes, it's time for the players to now think about their own personal situations. So you know, there's a lot of delicate situations with different players and we have to figure out how to keep the nucleus of this team together, retool it, and then get ready to give these guys a little bit of break and then get ready to ramp it all up again for next year."

Red Bull fans spent much of the evening (and this morning) searching for answers. Was the team outcoached? Was the season a success? Was this, like so many times before, "So Metro"?

Without fully invoking the same narrative that's been used since January 7th, there's not really much to be down about. The club over-performed on just about every level, defying those who wrote them off for the season. They lifted a second Supporters' Shield and earned a CONCACAF Champions League berth for next season. They plowed through their rivals, new and old. And they played some of the most free flowing, enjoyable to watch soccer in MLS this season, heartbreak in the playoffs aside.

We'll let Jesse Marsch have the last word:

"Our goal is to put ourselves in these kinds of games and situations every year, to grow every year, to invest in our youth and youth academy, and create something that has such a big identity that everyone in the community wants to attach themselves to it. The first year, in that sense, has been an overwhelming success. If we can make this kind of progress, year in and year out, we'll create something that I think can be really special."

Columbus will host the Portland Timbers in MLS Cup next Sunday (4PM, ESPN).

Dan Dickinson covered all three NYC soccer teams to the utter detriment of his personal life this year. For more soccer hot takes, follow him on Twitter.