Still alive entering Thursday in their bid to defend their Premier Development League Southwest Division title and return to the postseason, the Fresno Fuego instead were eliminated after a late goal lifted Ventura County to a 1-0 win.
The Fusion's Tony Alfaro scored in the 86th minute on a 25-yard free kick that curved around a four-man wall and inside the left post, just missing the hands of diving goalkeeper Francisco Hernandez.
It was the opener of a doubleheader that later featured an exhibition between Mexican teams Club America and Monarcas Morelia.
Fresno (5-6-1) had bounced back onto the playoff bubble last week, winning back-to-back matches heading into its final home contest.
"There was no consistency the whole year," midfielder Jose Cuevas said. "We were given the opportunities, but we just couldn't make it happen."
Fresno forced seven shots on goal but never found the net against a Ventura County team (6-2-3) now in first with 21 points.
The Fuego have two road matches left in the 14-game PDL season. In 2013, Fresno reached the conference semifinals before losing to Portland, 4-3, in penalty kicks.
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