CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence heading into last Sunday’s game in Orlando, Fla., against expansion side Orlando City.
Injuries had wreaked havoc on his struggling club all season, and it was no different last weekend when his back line consisted of Leonardo and Tommy Meyer in central defense, A.J. DeLaGarza (still dealing with a nagging foot injury) at right back and Baggio Husidic on the left.
That is no misprint. Husidic, normally a midfielder, was forced to play the new position because of injuries to Robbie Rogers and Todd Dunivant at that spot and the yellow-card accumulation that made right back Dan Gargan unavailable. Throw in a knee injury to central defender Omar Gonzalez, and it was a perfect storm of impending trouble for the Galaxy defense.
“I would say with the team we had on the field we had to play well to get a result,” head coach Bruce Arena said of the eventual 4-0 loss. “And we didn’t play well.”
One exception to that statement was Husidic, who turned 28 on Wednesday and had not played the new position until two days of training last week. Arena said Husidic was one of the few players he thought performed well in the unsettling defeat.
“He’s a smart player. He did a good job for us,” Arena said. “Baggio is the least of the worries on our team.”
Husidic, who Arena said got the nod over young Oscar Sorto because of his experience, has one goal and one assist in 12 appearances this season and found playing left back to be “fun” despite the embarrassing final score.
“In midfield you always have someone on our back,” he said. “Here you’re facing the game. It was a bit of a change but it was good, though.”
Husidic, who added that the defense-first mindset took some getting used to, pointed out the physical demands of the unfamiliar position were nothing out of the ordinary. He usually covers a great deal of space as an outside winger anyway and is constantly running. But running in Orlando’s heat and humidity was challenging, to say the least.
“It was tough to just go up and down the line,” he said. “Then again, speed isn’t my best characteristic. I had to watch when I went forward; that’s what left backs do. Robbie Rogers does that really well.”
Husidic also said he never felt uncomfortable, especially when he had the ball.
“Toward the end I was trying to get a bit more forward,” he said, “but I was exhausted. Playing in that heat is pretty tiring.”
Husidic refused to grade himself on his performance – “Obviously you can’t really say you did well; we lost 4-0,” he said – but he did smile when asked if he would play at left back again.
“I don’t know,” he responded. “Hopefully I don’t have to. Midfield is more fun.”