Fire coach Ezra Hendrickson has asked for patience with his team. With better health and more time to mesh, he thinks it could succeed.
‘‘It’s not so much patience because guys are young, but it’s patience because it’s a relatively new team and it’s going to take awhile to get guys to mesh and jell with each other,’’ Hendrickson said Wednesday. ‘‘And now you have also a new coach with a new philosophy that they have to also grasp. So when I talk about patience, it’s not so much about age or anything like that; it’s about giving time to develop.’’
The Fire (3-7-5) don’t have much more time to wait, but at least they have something positive to build on.
Playing without midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri (right hamstring), the Fire beat D.C. United 1-0 on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 17,650 at Soldier Field. Substitute Fabian Herbers scored in the 78th minute to halt the Fire’s 10-game winless streak and give them their first MLS victory since March 19.
‘‘I think it’s a huge push for us in the right direction, hopefully,’’ Herbers said. ‘‘Hopefully we can continue on that and keep going.’’
Shaqiri, the Fire’s high-profile designated player, picked up the injury on international duty with Switzerland. Never known for his durability during his time in Europe, Shaqiri also missed time this season with a calf issue.
Before the international break, Shaqiri was showing why the Fire paid so handsomely for his services. Luckily for the Fire, the hamstring problem doesn’t sound like a severe injury. Hendrickson seemed optimistic that Shaqiri could play Saturday at Houston.
Though the Fire attack had its moments, the finishing product was lacking until Herbers’ header snuck past goalkeeper Rafael Romo.
‘‘It’s a relief, but the past couple of games we’ve really played some good soccer,’’ Hendrickson said. ‘‘The Toronto game [May 28] was unfortunate, but we put that past us. We worked really hard the last couple of weeks. This week especially, the boys really put [the hard work] in.
‘‘We gave them a challenge tonight that we need to have a mentality and an attitude that we don’t just want to dominate games, we don’t want to just play better than teams, we want to beat teams. They went out today from the start and really showed that mentality, showed that attitude.’’
The Fire will need that attitude to get back into the playoff picture.
Last season, the Red Bulls claimed the last postseason spot in the Eastern Conference with 48 points. Using that number as a standard, the Fire still need 34 points in their last 19 matches to climb that high.
Over a full season, that would translate to about 61 points, which would’ve meant a second-place finish in the East last season. To go on such a run, the Fire would have to turn what Hendrickson views as progress into victories.
‘‘We’re building something,’’ Hendrickson said. ‘‘That consistency’s not quite there yet, but it’s coming. We’re just happy that we’ve kind of stopped the bleeding, so to speak.’’
NOTES: Defender Wyatt Omsberg left with an injury in the 95th minute and was replaced by Carlos Teran.
• Besides Shaqiri, the Fire also were missing attacker Jairo Torres (left hip) and defender Miguel Navarro (health-and-safety protocol). Stanislav Ivanov started in place of Torres, and Jonathan Bornstein took Navarro’s spot.