TORONTO – Milos Kocic hopes to continue being a first-choice goalkeeper next year, if not with Toronto FC, then somewhere else.
“I want to play football, that’s what I love to do and I want to do it somewhere where I can be No. 1,” Kocic said.
A season-ending training injury on March 23 to incumbent Stefan Frei, Toronto’s starter since 2009, thrust Kocic into the No. 1 role for most of the 2012 campaign.
But with Frei making a strong recovery from a fractured left fibula and torn ankle ligaments, the reality is that Kocic and Freddy Hall could be left to compete for a backup role for next year.
WATCH: Kocic's year-end interview
Kocic makes it clear that he feels that head coach Paul Mariner prefers Frei as the No. 1 ‘keeper.
“I think Paul favors Stefan,” Kocic said. “He said it, that Stef is injured, that Stef needs to come back and he’s No. 1.”
But Kocic said he will continue to work at trying to maintain the starting role as long as he is with the club.
“I’m going to give my best to be No. 1 here,” the 27-year-old Serb said last week at the club’s season-ending media conference, “and if my best is not good enough for Toronto, then I will find another club where I can fight for the No. 1 spot.”
Kocic made a good showing near the end of the 2011 season after Frei was injured. The two were said to be competing for No. 1 season entering training camp in 2012.
But Frei’s injury earlier this year left the job for Kocic, who had been a backup with Toronto since 2010. He made 27 league starts in 2012 after making only seven starts in 2011.
Hall, who was signed in late July, started seven league games, most of them after Kocic became father of triplets in September with one of the infants requiring extra time in hospital.
“I’m definitely coming back much stronger,” Kocic said. “I had a rough couple of months with my family. I’ll show everybody next year, I’m definitely going to challenge whoever is up for this job as the No. 1 goalkeeper in Toronto. I’m not going to give up my No.1 spot so easy.”
Larry Millson covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.