Baggio's Bite

Husidic covering in midfield

With the early injury absence of central midfielders Logan
Pause and John Thorrington, second-year Fire player Baggio Husidic has seen his
role expand from substitute help to needed starter over the course of four games.
The UIC product has started the club’s last two matches and just went the
distance for the first time this season in the Fire’s 2-0 win over DC United on
Saturday.

The Bosnian-born midfielder has broadened his game in every
match.

“Every game I’ve improved,” said Husidic. “I think I’ve
already done better than my performances last year. I feel much more confident
on the ball and more comfortable going forward.”

Husidic’s first start of 2010 came in the Fire’s 2-1 home
opening loss to San Jose on April 10. A quick glance at the box score would
signal a poor performance (Husidic was replaced by Justin Mapp at halftime) though
with the teams in a scoreless deadlock, Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos
made a tactical decision to spark more offense in front of the home crowd.

“I think Carlos made the technical decision to sub me in
order to insert Marco [Pappa] as a central attacking midfielder to provide more
offense. We had a few decent chances to score and in that situation at home you
go for more production. Marco was in the right place for his goal, but
unfortunately we lost.”

With Thorrington and Pause’s prognosis sitting stagnant, de
los Cobos employed a 4-5-1 formation for last Saturday’s match at United. The switch
saw Mapp make his first start of the season and allowed Pappa to play centrally
again. Husidic teamed in the middle with Peter Lowry for the second straight
match and the partnership proved fruitful as the pair bossed the United
midfield throughout, with the second-year player coming close to scoring his
first MLS goal a number of times.

“I personally thought I played well on both sides of the
field. It’s nice to finally get over that first hurdle and get a win. After you
get your first win, it’s like getting your first goal – they usually come a bit
more frequently. We were frustrated with our start but knew we were capable of
playing better and getting results. Now that we have it, we’re hoping to get
our second against Houston, who’s playing very well right now.”

De los Cobos has been happy with his central midfield corps
in the absence of his two long-time veterans.

“Both Baggio and Peter are playing and getting better each
game,” said de los Cobo. “Players need to play in order to mature in the
position and I feel good with both Baggio and Pete because they support the
team in midfield and are working very hard -- playing with two functions -- not
only to play in the midfield but to go from one box to the other. They’ve both
come close very close to scoring. This is good for us because they are
understanding the usefulness of playing both ways.”

Sitting now on four points, tied for fourth in the Eastern
Conference and with Saturday’s match against the Houston Dynamo looming,
Husidic is looking forward to playing again in front of the home crowd at
Toyota Park.

“There is nothing like playing at home. There is nothing I
don’t like about the city of Chicago and I wouldn’t mind spending my entire
career here. Given the atmosphere and the attendance record the club set, we
were disappointed not to get the result here on opening night. Section 8 is
always our twelfth man and we know they’ll be out in numbers again on Saturday
in what will be a very tough match against Houston.”