BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Hometown Homegrown hero Djordje Mihailovic wasted no time in making an impact on perhaps the biggest night of his profcareer.
The Chicago Fire rookie opened the scoring in sensational style in the first minute of the 2017 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer, an eventual 2-2 tie with Chivas de Guadalajara’s U-20s at Toyota Park on Tuesday evening.
Played in by midfield partner Tyler Adams, the 18-year-old weaved his way past a couple of defensive challenges before pulling the ball back onto his left foot and deliberately placing it beyond the left hand of Chivas goalkeeper Antonio Torres to give the hosts a dream start.
“I tried to put myself in a position where I can make the biggest impact in that situation,” Mihailovic told reporters. “I took a touch right behind their defender, cut back and put it near post. It was a great team goal.”
Mihailovic, a native of Lemont, Ill., was also named captain for the night by fellow Illinois men Brian McBride and Mike Magee. He led by example with a polished performance in an advanced role alongside strikers Jordan Hamilton and Derrick Etienne, often dropping a little deeper to get involved in play and keep the Chivas defense guessing.
“It’s every kid’s dream to score in front of the home crowd,” he said. “To play in the All-Star Game, representing the home club and home city, to score is another thing to add to that, so I’m definitely honored and it was a great experience for me.”
Being named captain came as a surprise to the modest attacker, who has forced his way into Fire coach Veljko Paunovic’s plans in his rookie year, amassing over 100 minutes in seven appearances off the bench for the high-flying Chicago side.
“They told me right before the game that I was going to captain,” he said. “At first I was in shock, because I mean, I didn’t really captain a team and to captain in the All-Star Game, representing and captaining all these great young players is definitely an honor. It’s definitely a step up for me.”
Kortne Ford, who equalized for the MLS side in second-half stoppage time, praised his fellow goalscorer -- and the teammates who helped to make the quick strike possible.
“Not just the goal, but the build-up itself was amazing,” Ford said. “It was a great build-up leading up to it: The ball got tossed out, we picked up the turnover and it was a great feeling to go up 1-0. In the back of our heads we knew that no MLS Homegrown team has gotten a win, and it was a great feeling to be out there celebrating with the guys.”