MLS coaches always talk about league parity. How on any given week, a team from the bottom half of the league can beat a team from the upper half of the league. That especially rang true for the fourth-place Philadelphia Union (11-10-7) who were trounced on the road Saturday, 3-0, by the last-place Chicago Fire (6-12-8).

After a two-game win streak that had the team believing a first-place finish in the East was possible, this loss certainly was deflating as the Union now face a brutal final six matches left in the season against teams who are all firmly entrenched in playoff position.

“We have three at home, three on the road, no easy games left,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “I don’t think there are any easy games, tonight is an example of that. The table, you can kind of throw it out the window at this stage because anybody in this league can beat anybody if you’re not ready to go. A difficult night for us, we had chances. We didn’t take them well, and Chicago punished us.”

The Union were playing without three of their starters. Jamaican goaltender Andre Blake and United States midfielder Alejandro Bedoya were on duty for their countries in the World Cup Qualifiers, while defender Joshua Yaro was attending the funeral of his mother in Africa, who sadly passed away. Curtin didn’t use that as an excuse for the team’s lack of energy against Chicago. 

“Andre and Alejandro certainly make us better, and Josh being absent, it hurts, but, at the same time, we have a deep squad,” Curtin said. “Everybody needs to step up in these moments and for the most part this year, we have, just a little bit of a letdown tonight. … They beat us on the night and they deserved the three points.”

All three starters are expected to be back in the starting lineup for this Saturday’s match against the Montreal Impact (9-7-10). The match could also have the potential return of Union captain and midfielder Maurice Edu, who has missed the entire 2016 campaign due to a stress fracture in his left leg. Edu played 32 minutes in a rehab assignment with the Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday, which could set the stage for his Union debut this weekend. 

“It was a tough loss for us, it wasn’t expected that way,” Union forward Fabian Herbers said. “We’re just excited to get home and get back on the field and get revenge for this result.”

Saturday’s match against the Impact will be the Union’s only home game this month. The game will air at 7 p.m. on the Comcast Network. Their next home game won’t take place until Oct. 16 against Orlando City SC (6-7-13).