"We’ll see": Montréal's Djordje Mihailovic talks USMNT, transfer aims & more

Djordje Mihailovic held court at CF Montréal training earlier this week, discussing a range of topics that spanned his injury recovery and US men’s national team outlook to a possible transfer overseas and his absence from the 2022 MLS All-Star squad.

USMNT hopes

For starters: The USMNT portion, with the Qatar 2022 World Cup a short four months away.

Mihailovic, enjoying a Landon Donovan MLS MVP-caliber campaign, was soaring into a June camp call-up until an ankle injury suffered in Montréal’s May 28 match vs. FC Cincinnati forced him to withdraw from the four-match window. With only September’s two-game window in Europe remaining for the USMNT, time and opportunities are fading away before manager Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man roster is named for the November/December tournament.

It was unfortunate timing, to put it mildly, though Mihailovic is taking the long view when it comes to his USMNT prospects. Whether it’s this fall or in the 2026 cycle – when the World Cup is jointly hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico – Mihailovic is confident his time will come.

“It was actually my decision to not go on that [June] trip because I probably could have forced myself to play but from a health side, it wouldn’t have been smart,” said Mihailovic, whose sixth and most recent cap came in a December 2020 friendly vs. El Salvador.

“I told the coach, I know this is a huge opportunity for me but if I come in I won't be able to play my 100 percent. We both agreed that if I keep playing well, I know there’s going to be chances in the future. And if it’s not this World Cup, then when the World Cup is in North America and I’ll be 27 I think. It’s another opportunity."

Transfer hopes

Strong club form could make another call-up irresistible, like when he had seven goals and four assists in 14 league games pre-injury as CF Montréal surged up the Eastern Conference table. That’d also reignite transfer interest, with persistent reports following Mihailovic’s rise since being traded to the Canadian club ahead of the 2021 MLS season.

While no definitives were provided, the 23-year-old offered the impression that Olivier Renard, the club’s vice president and chief sporting officer, is fielding calls.

“We’ll see. I’m speaking with my agent. Nothing official, but I’m sure – Olivier has mentioned there’s always conversations,” said Mihailovic, who trained this past winter at Italian Serie A side Bologna, another club owned by Joey Saputo.

“This is an important window and it’s a tricky situation. It’s actually tough to talk about, honestly. We’ll see. I’m just going to try to let things come naturally and when the time for the decision comes then I’ll make a decision, but right now I just need to focus on playing again.”

ASG snub?

While recovering, Mihailovic also learned he won’t be part of MLS’s 26-player contingent descending on Minnesota for the All-Star Game presented by Target on Aug. 10. Instead, the club will be represented by Canadian international defender Kamal Miller, one of two selections by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

Is the Chicago Fire FC homegrown product left feeling miffed? Not quite, as he asserted there are “bigger things in my future.”

“It’s a game where the best players, the best clubs are represented in this game and to have at least some representation is very important for the club and for the city,” Mihailovic said. “I knew my chances weren’t going to be pretty high given my injury, and I feel like that had something to do with it. I’m not 100 percent sure on that, though.

“Maybe one day I’ll be in that game. But right now it’s not actually the most important thing in my mind.”

Injury recovery

What is front and center for Mihailovic, however, is regaining full fitness. He earned 30 minutes off the bench in last weekend’s 1-0 Canadian Classique victory over rival Toronto FC, and now the East’s fourth-place team will head to bottom-of-the-table D.C. United on Saturday (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) in hopes of jumpstarting another winning streak.

Mihailovic called his seven weeks out, from an ankle knock and then a knee injury sustained during the recovery process, a “really difficult” time. Slow and steady, he’s confident top form will return as CFM seek their first full Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearance since 2016 (made play-in round in expanded 2020 format due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

“It’s important to be smart with my minutes,” Mihailovic said. “That was my first 30 minutes in a month and a half, so I’m going to have to speak with the staff, the strength coach [about] what the plan is. We still have a long stretch of games left and there are playoff chances. There’s not really a need to rush things right now.”