|Inside the MLS:
Following Toronto FC’s already legendary match against the LA Galaxy, I had the opportunity to speak with TFC keeper Milos Kocic. Milos took the time to answer a few questions about himself, his career and the upcoming season.
RedNation Online: You have a different build than what is the stereotype of the tall and lean goalkeeper. Has this helped you in your career?
Milos Kocic: Well, I don’t know if I’m that different from other keepers but I definitely do have the height and build.
RNO: How much do they follow Major League Soccer and North American soccer in Serbia? Do you ever think about a return to Serbian soccer?
Milos Kocic: I think that MLS is followed more and more and many of my friends who play in the Serbian SuperLiga ask me every year about the quality of play in MLS. I got a full athletic scholarship with St. John’s University in New York and that’s how I arrived in North America. After that, I played at Loyola then began my pro soccer career here with DC United. Currently, I’m not thinking about returning to Serbia to play but you never know what the future holds.
RNO: As of December 2011, the new goalkeeping coach in Toronto is former Celtic keeper Stewart Kerr. How are you and Stewart getting along?
Milos Kocic: Stewart is an excellent coach. His experience as a top keeper helps us a lot. We’ve been working on some very important details such as positioning at kicks and crosses and it’s helped us a lot already.
RNO: The all-important question for many is who will be the new number 1 at the start of the season – you or Frei?
Milos Kocic: It still hasn’t been decided who will be number 1 and who will be number 2, but the season is long so much of that can be changed.
RNO: Many don’t know that you played for the U-19 (under Miodrag Martac) and U-21 (under Vladimir “Pizon” Petrovic) national teams of Serbia-Montenegro from 2003-2005. Do you still have national team soccer in the back of your mind?
Milos Kocic: Of course, it’s my dream to play for the Serbian national team but first I have to be the sure number 1 at TFC in order to think about that.
RNO: Are you related to former Yugoslavian national team goalkeeper Aleksandar Kocic, who also played for Dubocica from Leskovac?
Milos Kocic: I know Aleksandar but, no, we’re not related.
RNO: How do you like the atmosphere at stadiums throughout the MLS?
Milos Kocic: The atmosphere at MLS stadiums is getting better and better. There’s still a lot of teams that have to work on their supporters clubs but there’s also a lot of teams that have supporters that can compare with the biggest teams in Europe.
RNO: You came to Toronto in 2010 but were subsequently loaned to the Canadian Soccer League’s Serbian White Eagles. It seems as if you finally got a true chance in 2011 under Aron Winter?
Milos Kocic: Aron Winter gave me a chance and I used it. I waited a long time to get a chance but, hey, it came and I gave all of myself not to miss it. At the end of last season, I played well, but of course, there’s always room for improvement.
RNO: Has the Serbian community in Canada helped you adapt? What were your impressions of compatriot Preki Radosavljevic?
Milos Kocic: In regards to the Serbian community here, I have a set-out group of friends that I’m with every day. Of course, my friends from the White Eagles are fantastic guys and we always find time to hang out. Preki is a coach who players respect and he has a strong authority. Discipline is the most important thing with him.
RNO: Kind of a random question but how important is a professional athlete’s diet?
Milos Kocic: Diet is a very important factor with athletes. Many meals a day with necessary snacks and enough water can help an athlete in many ways, getting him better results than the athlete who doesn't really watch what he eats.
RNO: In 2009, you turned down an offer from your beloved club Red Star Belgrade. I think it’s safe for me to assume that this was due to the really bad situation with the club at the time?
Milos Kocic: In 2009, it was a tough situation in Serbian soccer and it still is. A lot of debts to the players and poor conditions prevent players from advancing their skills. Surely these are the reasons why many players leave the country.
RNO: In Serbia, from what I’ve gathered, it seems as if there is a stereotype that players go to play in MLS at the end of their career as it is “financially attractive.” How true is this, as we know that MLS teams have limited salary caps?
Milos Kocic: I feel that Serbian players now show a lot more respect towards MLS which was not the case in the past. A lot of players come from Serbia and see that playing in this league really isn’t that easy. There’s a lot of travel, sacrifice and, of course, money doesn’t fall from the sky, you have to earn it somehow. In the past 2-3 years, few Serbian players have made it in MLS.
RNO: How do you think you guys played against the Galaxy?
Milos Kocic: We let in a goal late in the match and the same thing keeps happening to us every year. We have to work on the organization of our corners and free kicks. We still have a chance. We’re going to Los Angeles with our heads held high and wanting to win.
RNO: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us Milos.
Milos Kocic: No problem. Thanks Djuradj. All the best!