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Listless effort by Fire results in damaging loss

BRIDGEVIEW IL - OCTOBER 03: Patrick Nyarko #14 Chicago Fire battles with Michael Lahoud #13 PhiladelphiUniduring an MLS match ToyotPark

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - OCTOBER 03: Patrick Nyarko #14 of the Chicago Fire battles with Michael Lahoud #13 of the Philadelphia Union during an MLS match at Toyota Park on October 3, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:50AM

The Fire failed to play as if it were fighting for the Eastern Conference title during a 3-1 loss Wednesday night to the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park.

The Union put on pressure from the start, while the Fire put forth its most uninspired effort of the season in a home-field defeat that seriously diminishing the team’s chances of finishing first in the East.

The Fire’s starters were poor in all phases — passing lazily and leaving players unmarked regularly.

“Maybe it’s good for us that we know that we are not already through [to the playoffs] and that we have to work,” center back Arne Friedrich said.

The Union’s first goal came in the seventh minute when Jack McInerney ran umarked into the 18-yard box and received a perfect through ball from striker Danny Cruz.

Fire goalie Sean Johnson made a solid attempt to cut off McInerney’s angle, but the striker made a crafty touch with his left foot to get the ball past Johnson.

The Union padded its lead in the 68th minute when substitute Gabriel Gomez two-touched a McInerney cross into the upper left-hand corner of the net.

The Fire played without coach Frank Klopas who served a one-game suspension after his ejection Saturday in Kansas City.

Assistants Leo Percovich and Mike Matkovich substituted speedster Dominic Oduro for captain Logan Pause at halftime. That paid off when Oduro scored the Fire’s lone goal in the 69th minute.

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