Baggio Husidic left Major League Soccer so he could advance his game, but he always planned to return and that couldn't have worked out better for the former Chicago Fire midfielder.
Husidic, who spent the past two years in Sweden, says he's “super thrilled” about joining the LA Galaxy, who acquired his MLS rights in June from Colorado – it was part of the trade that brought Pablo Mastroeni to Southern California – and signed him last month.
“Any time you think of MLS, you probably think of the Galaxy and how well they've done in their last few years,” Husidic told MLSsoccer.com by phone last week. “They already have a stacked team, but I'm ready for the challenge and I'm looking forward to challenging for minutes and a [starting] spot.”
Husidic, 26, spent three years with the Fire, where was a regular in his second season – contributing five goals and three assists in 22 games and 18 starts – but saw his time halved in year three. He signed with Hammarby IF shortly after the Rapids acquired his rights in the 2011 Re-Entry Draft and spent most of the past two seasons at the second-tier club under new Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter, a former Galaxy defender and assistant coach.
The opportunity to come to LA was too good to pass up.
“I wanted to get back to MLS,” said Husidic, who was born in Bosnia and moved to Chicago when he was nine. “To leave for Sweden was a way to develop as a player. It was a good move for me to get more experience and more playing time, but I've always wanted to come back to the MLS, and I'm glad it happened sooner than later.”
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Husidic, an attacking midfielder, featured at various spots on the field for Hammarby, even playing in central defense – “I actually did quite well; we ended up winning all three of the games,” he said – and grew under Berhalter.
“He's a cool guy, and he's a very, very disciplined guy who always pushes you, even in training sessions,” Husidic said. “Very intense, very professional. I developed a lot – he's made me a much sharper and much more aggressive-minded player.”
He already has friends with the Galaxy – he's known associate head coach Dave Sarachan for years and trains with Michael Stephens among other MLS players during the offseason in Chicago – and says he has regularly watched them play. He says Brazilians Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas, LA's starting central midfield tandem, are “obviously phenomenal players” and that it will “be an uphill battle for me to get in the team,” but he's anxious to show Bruce Arena and his staff what he can do.
“I think when I'm given the freedom to be creative and go forward and be a box-to-box midfielder, I can do well ...,” Husidic said. “All you can really do as a player is make the hardest decision for [the coaches on] which guy to play. You show during games, you show during training, and then it's the big boss' decision.”