After a downer of a week leading up to the game, the Fire needed something positive Sunday night.
That’s exactly what they got, beating the New York Red Bulls 1-0 and snapping their four-game winless streak.
On Wednesday, the Fire (4-5-13, 25 points) were unable to add to their roster before the transfer window closed.
That inactivity didn’t sit well with the club or its fans, both seeking reinforcements for a team that has 13 ties and is trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
But with the victory — only their second at home — the Fire are just two points from the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 12 games to go.
“I’m proud of the guys, the way they’ve hung in there and made sure that we’ve not lost focus of the fact that we’re not a bad side, and we’re still growing,” said Fire coach Frank Yallop, who gave Razvan Cocis his first start and also put Harry Shipp and Bakary Soumare back in the starting lineup.
“It’s easy to chuck the towel in and get complacent and turn on each other.”
Yallop’s players made it clear they haven’t done that.
The Fire took a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute when Mike Magee scored his seventh goal, tapping in the rebound after Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles stopped his penalty kick. The Fire earned the penalty when Quincy Amarikwa was taken down in the box by Ambroise Oyongo.
The tricky part for the Fire came after the goal when they had to hold the lead, not exactly their forte.
But they not only held off the Red Bulls (6-7-10, 28 points), they seemed to be more aggressive as they looked for a second goal to clinch the game.
The Fire picked up their second shutout in three games.
“The performance tonight was a fighting, solid, really good home performance that we deserved to win,” Yallop said. “I was pretty proud of our guys.”
NOTE: The home game against the Red Bulls was the Fire’s last until Aug. 30, when they host FC Dallas.