Caden Clark scored the Red Bulls’ first goal. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the 11th consecutive season, the Red Bulls had qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

And for the 11th campaign in a row, the Red Bulls have been eliminated from the playoffs.

The Red Bulls’ quest for that elusive Major League Soccer glory will have to wait until 2021 as they exited the postseason with a 3-2 defeat to Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday.

They have reached MLS Cup only once in their 25-year history and that was in 2008, when they lost to Columbus.

“Just disappointed, frustrated. It sucks,” Red Bulls captain Sean Davis said. “hat’s really how we’re all feeling. We had a lot of momentum heading into this game. I think we had some good moments, we could have been better, a little more dangerous, and we could have been sharper in the box, in both boxes, really.

“There’s a lot to digest right now, trying not to get too high or too low, but the reality is that at this club the standard is very high and we have to meet that standard. We have to take the next step. I think that’s where, as players we have to look in the mirror. I have to look at myself first, but there’s a lot to reflect on.”

Gerhard Struber made his debut as New York head coach after getting his visa and COVID-19 protocols sorted out. Now, he will have to wait until next year before coaching the team again.

“A difficult season ending now, for my team,” he said. “I think maybe the game showed everyone a little bit of the rollercoaster of the season. In this game, I can see a team that this season never gave up. Tthey always believed for development, always believed they can bring good results. Especially in the last few weeks showed me, showed everyone in the club, also the fans, that we are on a good way. Right now, in this game, we are also a little unlucky, especially in the first half. “

The Red Bulls surprised the hosts in the 23rd minute when Caden Clark unleashed a shot that beat goalkeeper Eloy Room for a 1-0 lead. Clark, 17, has scored three goals during his short tenure with the club.

Three minutes later, however, Pedro Santos knotted things up with a penalty kick.

In the opening minute of the second half, Columbus took the lead to stay. Former Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne, Jr. fired a shot from the right side that goalkeeper Ryan Meara saved. The rebound fell to Darlington Nagbe, who slotted the ball home for a 2-1 edge.

U.S. international Gyasi Zardes gave Columbus some much-needed breathing room as Etienne again made life difficult for his former teammates by setting up the U.S. international for a 3-1 advantage in the 68th minute.

“In the second half, especially the goal after the halftime break gave some players a knife in the heart,” Struber said. “Many players are shocked in this moment and we lose the momentum. We lose control of the game.”

Brian White made it interesting with a goal in the 90th minute, but the visitors were unable to equalize and send the game into extratime.

The only extra time Red Bulls will have now is the offseason and until preseason starts, most likely in January, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to take that next step,” Davis said. “We’re going to look at ourselves first, like I mentioned, but this is a club where it’s not good enough to just make the playoffs. It’s not good enough in that locker roome We know that. We’re going to look in the mirror and we need to get better. Heading into 2021, we have to continue to develop that killer instinct, that edge that’s going to get things over the line.”