This wasn’t the way the New England Revolution’s season was supposed to end.

After posting a 22-5-7 regular season record and earning an MLS record 73 points, the Revolution went into Tuesday night’s Eastern Conference semi-finals match at Gillette Stadium against New York City FC as the seeming top dog in the MLS Cup Playoffs and with a chance to host the MLS Cup if they could win two playoff games.

They left the match with an early exit from maybe the most promising season in club history after losing 5-3 to NYCFC on penalty kicks.

Before the game, there was an electric feeling in the air among Revs fans tailgating outside the stadium. But there was also talk of being the target of the rest of the league and dealing with the pressure and angst that comes with cheering for the team that’s expected to win it all.

“I’ve never been this nervous before a game,” said Fran Harrington, who was at a tailgate hosted by the Midnight Riders, a Revolution supporter group. “I’ve been to multiple MLS Cups, I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous. Target on your back makes it terrifying.”

Monty Rodrigues, a former president of the Riders, talked about how the team had a chance to capture the attention of a Boston fanbase that’s used to cheering for organizations with a storied history of winning.

But he also had something of an omen about what laid ahead for the Revs inside a raucous Gillette crowd of over 25,000 fans.

“Every time we have a good crowd here, there’s a bad result,” he said. “And even the last game of the regular season, it doesn’t mean anything, but 28,000 people, a lot of people that want to just come and experience it and you don’t give them the right result, it doesn’t make them want to come back. I love the Celtics, I love the Bruins,. They’re both struggling right now — you have a chance to step into this spot right now and be like, ‘Hey, we’re here.’ And I wish they would take advantage of it.”

To the frustration of a beleaguered fanbase, the Revs couldn’t take advantage of that spotlight. In a physical match that resembled a game of rugby rather than soccer at times, New England and New York traded literal and figurative blows on the pitch. New York struck first, scoring in the third minute of the first half to stun the home crowd into silence, only to be caught by the Revs soon after.

The 1-1 count would hang on the scoreboard for the rest of regulation play until the game went into extra time.

In the second-half of extra time, New York sucked the air out Foxborough yet again by finding the back of the Revs net in the 109th minute. But after a red card led to a numbers advantage for New England, the Revs’ Tajon Buchanan scored to even it up in the 118th minute, further building the suspense in a match that didn’t seem to want to end.

But after over two hours of match time and the gentleman’s duel of penalty kicks, the Revs season ended. And all that was left was: ‘What if?’

Still, Revolution coach Bruce Arena, MLS’ Coach of the Year, gave a straightforward answer when asked if the season was a success.

“I think any sensible, reasonable person would say that,” he said. “If you think otherwise, I think you need to have your head examined.”

The Revolution have been to the MLS Cup five times but have never taken home the elusive championship trophy. This was supposed to be the year the club would see if the sixth time is the charm.

And now, despite all the accolades the team racked up over the season, it’s back to the drawing board. Center back Andrew Farrell wrapped up the emotions of the moment succinctly for everyone involved.

“We'll look back and obviously enjoy it, but at the end of the day it sucks,” he said.