The Chicago Fire made changes Saturday night at Toyota Park. They brought more of the same.
The Fire broke a three-game losing streak, but it couldn't hold a late 1-goal lead, taking a dissatisfying 1-1 draw with Houston despite Diego Chaves' fourth goal of the season, coming in the 18th minute.
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"We feel like it's a loss right now," Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic said, a statement that's been heard frequently around Toyota Park the past couple of seasons.
Husidic was among the changes. Out of the lineup went central midfielder Michael Videira. In went Husidic, a regular last year who has barely played this year but who could move and possess the ball better than Videira.
"It's good to be back with the guys, actually starting," Husidic said. "...I felt like I had a good performance."
"Baggio tried, but in some moments of the game he disappeared, and for that reason I took out Baggio (in the 65th minute)," Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos said.
Out of the starting 11 went Uruguayan import Gaston Puerari, in went another newcomer, forward Dominic Oduro, who created chances with his speed but couldn't finish them.
"His speed always created problems for the back line of Houston," de los Cobos said.
For the injured Cory Gibbs, in went Yamith Cuesta at center back, like the other two getting his first start of 2011. Of the three, he played the best.
"It's tough," captain Logan Pause said. "The second half there wasn't a whole lot of soccer. Houston threw so many numbers forward. We get a couple of breaks, a couple of chances to get that second goal. We knew that one of the things that makes that team successful is set pieces, and giving up a goal on a set piece, it's just a bummer. We worked on it. It's actually my man (Bobby Boswell on an 83rd-minute corner kick) who scored, so I'm responsible, partly responsible. ...
"They just kind of wore us down. It definitely hurts, though."
The Fire (1-3-2, 5 points) will have to keep looking for answers. More changes are likely next week at Colorado.
"We had that 1-0 lead, and we just played not to give away a goal instead of just looking to play the way we did," Husidic said. "We're very, very disappointed that we didn't get 3 points today."
That theme hasn't changed from last year.