The Chicago Fire got 3 points in the MLS standings for Sunday afternoon's 2-1 victory against visiting Sporting Kansas City.
Style points are another matter.
"We got the result we needed," Fire coach Frank Yallop said of his team's second victory of the season after going winless the season's first eight games.
"We needed a win bad," forward Mike Magee added. "If that's the way we're going to win games, I feel like I only have a couple of games left in my career. We'll take it and it was deserved, but a funky game. We'll take wins however we can get them at this point."
It helped that the Fire doesn't have any players who will play in the World Cup next month and SKC has two.
Facing a team that was short-handed due to injuries and national-team call-ups then became even more short-handed in the 64th minute when 17-year-old center back Erik Palmer-Brown earned a second yellow card, the Fire (2-2-6, 12 points) still struggled to close out the victory through what Yallop called a "hair-raising" final 20 minutes.
Early on, the Fire got a little help from the referee, who twice awarded Yallop's squad penalty kicks in the first half. Magee scored on both, giving the 2013 MLS MVP 4 goals for the season and squelching the team controversy over who would take the PKs after a couple of crucial misses.
"Me, (captain Jeff Larentowicz) and Frank had solved the problem and we forgot to tell Quincy," Magee said of leading scorer Quincy Amarikwa, who earned the first PK when goalkeeper Eric Kronberg tripped him in the penalty area. "I love Quincy and I love that he wants to take it, so I told him I got it. He's a strong dude and we had it tight, so I walked away. I knew Jeff was going to handle it because Frank let us hear it pretty good after the last one. Jeff told him it was mine and that's that."
The Fire didn't get its first shutout of the season, losing that even after Palmer-Brown's exit left SKC with just 10 players. But it did get a sigh of relief, courting disaster by allowing SKC to continue attacking but averting disaster by preventing a game-tying goal.
Still, the Fire's end-of-game struggles are something the players and coaches need to fix, if they can figure out how.
"I don't know," Magee said. "I don't know. We need to, though."
Clearly the problem is getting in the players' heads.
"We've won two games in a row, so I'm going to focus on that," Magee said, "but you kinda know the answer to that."