TORONTO — Backup goalkeeper Milos Kocic hasn't played much this season. But when he has, he’s proven to be somewhat of a lucky charm for Toronto FC.
The 26-year-old from Serbia earned a clean sheet this past Saturday in the Reds’ 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake, standing in for injured Stefan Frei, who had played every minute of the club’s league matches until then.
Kocic’s two other starts this season were in the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League against Nicaraguan club Real Estelí, and Toronto won both games 2-1.
“Milos did very well,” head coach and technical director Aron Winter said. “You saw the games that he played against Real Estelí, he did very well. [Saturday], of course, was a different league but a big compliment for him. ... The moments he had to come out of the box, he did very well and it is not easy when you have played only two games until now.”
In last Saturday’s match at BMO Field, Kocic made a key save on Will Johnson in stoppage time to preserve the 1-0 margin. However, the save Kocic savored most came near the 70-minute mark with the game still tied 0-0.
RSL’s Fabián Espíndola beat a defender on the right side of the box and fed a low cross to Álvaro Saborío, who was poised for the tap in. But a diving Kocic got his fingers on the ball and forced the Costa Rican striker to miss it.
“I just touched it when Saborío was about to score,” Kocic said. “If they had scored the goal, it would have been different. That save when it was 0-0 was the most important for the team.”
Regular starting ‘keeper Frei took a kick on the leg during training last week, forcing him to miss the rest of the club’s training sessions that week as well as the match against RSL.
While the injury isn’t serious — Winter said Frei may be out for about a week — the time off the pitch will serve as a much-needed breather for the goalie.
Depending on how the injury progresses, Kocic could be starting again on Thursday when Toronto travel to Panama City to play Tauro FC in their first game in Group C of the CONCACAF Champions League. TFC will then visit the Chicago Fire in MLS play on Sunday.