For two precious hours this evening the Portland Timbers had hope that they could make it into the playoffs.
Even when Kendall Waston scored and put the Vancouver Whitecaps up 1-0 over the Colorado Rapids, it wasn't over. No matter how bad Colorado looked or how easily the Whitecaps thwarted them, it was not over.
Then the whistle blew and it time to accept reality: the Timbers, despite only losing once in their last nine games, were knocked out of the playoffs by a single, measly point.
If they had just hung on to their lead against Seattle in April, or Columbus in May, or Vancouver in June, or if any number of other moments had gone differently the Timbers could be in the playoffs right now.
But they didn't.
The Timbers didn't make the playoffs; they didn't make the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals; they didn't make the US Open Cup semifinals.
Despite all that it was a good year.
Diego Valeri set the Timbers' single-season MLS goalscoring record, again. Jack Jewsbury played his 300th game in MLS. Diego Chara tied the MLS single-season record for fouls committed. Darlington Nagbe scored a goal.
Really, any year spent rooting for your team is a pretty good year.
Still, though, next year could stand to be a little better.