Former MLS Cup winner Gary Smith sees team eliminated in England playoffs

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Little Stevenage fell to bigger Sheffield United in England’s League One playoffs Monday.

Stevenage, having finished sixth in England’s third tier, had held United to a goalless draw in last Friday’s opening leg at Broadhall Way. So the return match at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane looked like a tough ask. Sheffield prevailed 1-0 and now advances into the Wembley final for promotion into England’s second tier.

The club is guided by Gary Smith, who led Colorado to the 2010 MLS Cup. Smith left a year later in a dispute with upper management, then took over at Stevenage two months later in January. His first match was a 1-0 win that put the small Hertfordshire club into the FA Cup fifth round for the first time.

Monday’s playoff loss will keep The Boro (the club’s nickname) in England’s third tier for at least another year.

What Smith told the club’s website following Monday’s loss.

“Tonight, I think Sheffield United showed more quality on the ball and carved out better moments but in saying that when you take it into the final five minutes of a game you’re looking towards extra time and possibly penalties to be our best route of getting to the final. It’s of huge disappointment and great deflation that we concede that late one.

“They can be extremely proud of the season and the way that they’ve conducted themselves throughout, I think the whole group of guys are an absolute credit to Stevenage Football Club.”