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Charlotte FC eliminated from playoff contention after 2-2 draw

Daniel Rios scored his fifth goal in the last two games, but the team was unable to defeat Columbus Crew.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the season's penultimate match, Charlotte FC saw their playoff hopes dwindle away, but it wasn't without giving it an intense effort.

Charlotte FC (13-18-2) had their last home game of the season with Columbus Crew (11-7-15) end with a 2-2 draw. The Queen City team made a noble effort in the second half to get the win, but it just wasn't met to be.

Columbus Crew was the first team to add a point on the scoreboard when Lucas Zelarayán made an insane goal in the 36th minute from near midfield that caught Charlotte FC's defense and goalkeeper by surprise as it soared across the field and landed in the net. 

In the second half, Columbus Crew widened their margin with a Luis Diaz goal in the 54th minute that resulted after a Charlotte FC defender slipped on the pitch in front of the goal. 

Charlotte FC cut the deficit in half in the 58th minute when Daniel Rios headed a cross into the net to make the score 2-1. The goal is Rios's fifth in the last two games.

After that, Charlotte FC kept their foot on the offense pedal as they tried everything they could to score. Most of the last quarter of the game was spent in Columbus Crew territory as Charlotte FC did their best to find the net. 

Finally, after effort after effort, Charlotte FC broke through once more in stoppage time with a goal from Andre Shinyashiki.

In the end, though, Charlotte FC dropped the match and was eliminated from making the playoffs.

Charlotte FC came into Wednesday's home match against Columbus riding the longest winning streak in franchise history while still in playoff contention.

Both teams came in sitting just outside the Eastern Conference playoff window, with Columbus in 8th place with 45 points and Charlotte in 9th place with 41 points. Seven teams make the postseason in each conference. After the game, both teams gained a point but only Columbus jumped up in the standings.

Charlotte came into Wednesday's game with a three-game win streak. The team's last three games featured wins over the Philadelphia Union (4-0), Chicago Fire (3-2), and New York City (1-0). Daniel Rios tripled his goal total for the season during the team's last match. Rios scored a haul by making four goals in the match to put his season total at six.

Columbus, meanwhile, won on Saturday against NY Red Bulls, earning their first win since Aug. 31. 

The last time these two teams met, an evenly played game led to a 1-1 draw, Charlotte's second and so far last draw of the season. Andre Shinyashiki scored the lone goal for Charlotte FC in the 50th minute.

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Charlotte FC's final match of the season takes place on Sunday, Oct. 9 against NY Red Bulls.

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