MONTREAL – For Sinisa Ubiparipovic, the current preseason has an awful sense of déjà vu to it.
Just like 2012, when an MCL injury suffered in February cut his preseason short, Ubiparipovic has been getting familiar with the treatment table of late. On Jan. 22, the Bosnian midfielder tried to reach for the ball during training and was appalled to feel something go in his calf.
Fortunately for him, the injury turned out to be not as bad as first feared, and Ubiparipovic hopes that the news is a sign that better things are yet to come in 2013. After his long-overdue first MLS start with Montreal, a goalscoring performance in a 2-1 home win over Toronto FC last April, the Bosnian only started twice more, playing a grand total of 325 minutes in 12 games.
“It was very difficult at times,” Ubiparipovic told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “I felt that there were moments when I contributed every time I played, one way or another. Not just scoring, but contributing to the overall team performance and hopefully winning. It wasn’t easy, but I pushed it the entire year.
“Every player thinks he deserves to be playing at certain times, and I thought so as well, so I came in and worked hard. Sometimes, the coach’s decisions go your way, sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, last year, sometimes they didn’t go my way, but I coped well with that, showed up every day and pushed to make the case for myself.”
It should now be about a week before Ubiparipovic can train more intensively and carry on proving himself to new head coach Marco Schällibaum. From his vantage point on the sidelines, where he has been riding a stationary bike next to injured colleagues Nelson Rivas and Jeb Brovsky now and again, the 29-year-old has worked out that the type of player he is will fit right into Schällibaum’s system.
The Swiss coach, it appears, will demand quick interplay in the middle, with three dynamic and intelligent midfielders who know their role. This type of organization, with a more defending player fielded next to a deep-lying creator that has license to interchange at will with an outright attacking mid, is what Ubiparipovic feels brings out the best in him.
“I like to be in a [central] midfield role, and what makes me happy is when I make the other guys around me better,” he said. “If you do that, they make you better, too.”