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Chicago’s Eastern Conference crown chances take huge hit

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Results-wise, this is a brutally unforgiving time of year.

Chicago fell unexpectedly Wednesday, taking a 3-1 beating at home to Philadelphia. And with the loss to the already eliminated Union, Chicago chances of top spot in the East took a massive blow.

They aren’t out of things, officially speaking; but with a trip into New York shortly ahead, the chances that Chicago can make up five points on first-place Sporting Kansas City just shrank measurably.

The Fire must now concentrate on keeping ahead of the pack to avoid a drop into fourth or fifth. And, of course, they have to figure out what went so wrong on a chilly Wednesday in Bridgeview?

A big talker in this one was Guillermo Franco’s red card in the 78th minute, a ridiculous outcome for the former Mexican international, who was making just his second Chicago Fire appearance since the mid-September arrival.

He was brought in to be a late game-changer. Well, he certainly did change the game. His team was down by a goal, fighting hard to make up the deficit and keep the boys from Bridgeview in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

So he changed the game for sure – leaving the home team to play 10 vs. 11 because he decided it would be a grand idea to go over the ball, cleats exposed, against Philly midfielder Brian Carroll.

It was 2-1 at the time. A late counter-attack goal made it 3-1 for John Hackworth’s young club from PPL Park outside Philly.

Watch the red card for Franco here: