While the Crew did enough to beat Chicago Fire FC 2-0 at Lower.com field on Sunday afternoon, getting a first-half goal from Lucas Zelarayan and a second-half goal from Miguel Berry to lead the way, the Club could not get the combination of results and goal differential makeup it needed to secure one of the East's seven playoff places.
Though the Fire put pressure on the hosts early, with Alvaro Medran and Chinonso Offor getting some early attempts in to test Eloy Room, Zelarayan showed his mettle as well early in the contest. In the 31st minute, he opened the scoring by taking a pass from Derrick Etienne and going what he'd done at points throughout the half — running into the box directly at Fire defenders and getting a shot on frame.
The Crew kept the momentum going into first-half stoppage time, with Zelarayan nearly getting a second on a Pedro Santos assist to close out what would be a solid half under normal circumstances — but the Crew were under extraordinary circumstances to keep their playoff hopes alive.
In the 58th minute, Berry went one-on-one with 17-year-old Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, and Slonina initially got the better of the matchup by making the save. But then Berry put back the rebound, and while it initially appeared to some naked eyes that a Fire defender had cleared it off the line, Video Review confirmed that it crossed the line before it was whipped back out.
Darlington Nagbe, Luis Diaz and Josh Williams all had prime chances late in the match to work on the 8-goal differential separating the Crew from the Red Bulls — one of the pieces in the Crew's complicated playoff equation — but ultimately could only muster the pair of goals in the final match of 2021.