The Union were served on Sunday with another reminder of the importance of spending big money on a big-scoring striker.
Chicago's Nemanja Nikolic scored a hat trick as the Fire downed the Union, 3-2, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
Nikolic's goals were his league-leading 22nd, 23rd and 24th of the year. He cost the Fire $1.9 million in salary and a $3.2 million transfer fee, the kind of sums the Union have never spent on an individual player.
It's especially true at striker. The most the team has spent on the position is current backup striker Jay Simpson's $508,333 salary this year. He was signed in January to be a predatory finisher, but has recorded just one goal in 21 appearances.
The game's first goal came in just the third minute, as Nikolic raced past Union rookie defender Jack Elliott and slotted a calm finish to Andre Blake's far post.
After that, the Union struck twice in the next 10 minutes. First was an own goal by Chicago defender Johan Kappelhoff in the sixth minute, forced by C.J. Sapong after taking a smart pass from Bedoya.
Seven minutes later, Haris Medunjanin played a lovely ball over the top of the Chicago back line, and Bedoya chipped Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson with his first touch.
The score remained 2-1 until the 64th minute, when Elliott made a mistake that turned the game around. He took out Fire winger David Accam from behind at the edge of the 18-yard box, and referee Allen Chapman rightly gave Chicago a penalty kick. Nikolic buried it.
Nikolic went on to score the winner in the 78th, shooting past Blake after taking in a cross from Brandon Vincent.
The Union's final road game of the season was their 10th loss away from home this year, compared to just one win and six ties. The season finale is next Sunday against Orlando City at Talen Energy Stadium (4 p.m., 6ABC).