BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- For the second time in as many games, Libertyville native and Chicago Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic was the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time.
Husidic scored a goal in the 53rd minute, but the Fire could not hold onto that lead as they played to a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA on Saturday in front of 13,224 at Toyota Park.
The Fire attack built up when Marco Pappa found Patrick Nyarko on the right side. Nyarko timed his run perfectly to create a big gap away from Chivas' defense. That forced former Fire player and Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton to come out of the net to try and slow down Nyarko. Nyarko delivered the ball across the box, and Husidic converged for his second goal of the season as his momentum carried him into the back netting along with the ball.
"He's having a good performance throughout these two matches," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "He's becoming one of the top members of the team."
"Carlos is pretty disciplined on defense and offense," Husidic said. "I feel I've been doing pretty well on defense, and the reward is being able to go forward. I've been rewarded with the goals. ... I think overall the team is pretty pleased with me. Hopefully Carlos is, as well."
The Fire looked well on their way to holding onto the lead. But in the 76th minute, Maicon Santos tied the score at 1-1 when he drove his header past Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, off of Sacha Kljestan's corner kick. Santos got in front of Fire defender Wilman Conde for the header, and Santos placed the ball well away from Dykstra, who dove to his right.
Before Husidic's goal, both the Fire and Chivas created minimal chances in what felt like an incredibly drawn out first half. In the first 45 minutes, Chicago's most creative opportunity came in the 24th minute when Nyarko had a back flick to Husidic, who was making a strong run toward the right side. Husidic then delivered a solid cross around a Chivas defender and nearly connected with Brian McBride. McBride tried to one-time it in the air, but could not put his foot squarely on the ball to cap off a well-orchestrated attack.
Possession-wise, Chivas held an edge for the match. But the Fire had their chances, and they could have responded immediately after Santos' goal. In the 80th minute, Nyarko worked around Chivas defender Dario Delgado, briefly putting Nyarko in a 1-on-1 situation against Thornton. But Thornton came out and kicked the ball away.
"All I saw was blue [Chivas shirts], so I just tried to go for it, but I had no angle," Nyarko said. "I just hit it and hoped I would sneak in. Zach is so huge. He had everything covered."
The Fire were dealt some significant injuries heading into the game and during the match. Forward Collins John originally was penciled in during the pregame to make the start over McBride, but a left hamstring setback kept him out of the lineup.
"I couldn't really sprint. I wanted to give it a try," John said of his pregame. "On Thursday in training, I felt something in my left leg. When I stepped out today in warm-ups, it came back. It was a bit of a shock."
A similar setback occurred for midfielder Justin Mapp, who had to leave the match in the 22nd minute with a left leg injury.
The Fire were a far cry from their previous 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo. But they held the lead and were in a strong position to take home another win.
The absence of Krzysztof Krol, who served his red card, did not really play a huge factor Saturday. Deris Umanzor played at left back, and while he didn't do anything significant on the positive or negative side of the scale, there was not a Chivas offensive play where he got burned.
Chivas' runs for the most part were not that threatening. They made some casual passes from a distance, but most of Dykstra's four saves were directed right toward him. The Fire had a lot of defensive maneuvering earlier this season, but the one thing you can say is that the back line has held its own. Dykstra has yet to come close to needing to put in a double-digit save effort to carry the team, and that is important in helping him progress as the No. 1 guy in the net.