Milos Kocic

Backup Kocic still riding unexpected path in Toronto

TORONTO — Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic apologized to both fans and his teammates after a clumsy play in the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round late last month, but he’s had nothing to be sorry for since then.

The play in question — when he rolled over the ball while trying to snuff out a scoring chance for visiting Nicaraguan side Real Estelí during TFC’s 2-1 win — was perhaps the only real blemish of Kocic’s surprising run of late, which has led to three straight starts in regular-season play.

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“They trusted me and I really appreciate the opportunity I got after that [first] game,” Kocic said. “We have to accept that our position as a goalkeeper is a tricky one. Everybody can see every mistake you make or every good play you make. It's the most responsible position on the team.”

The 26-year-old Serb has taken that responsibility while starter Stefan Frei continues to recover from a bruised knee, and he has suited up in all four CCL games and the most recent stretch on the MLS schedule.

Kocic allowed three goals in his three MLS games and earned his first MLS shutout in a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 13. He played in only two MLS games all last season, including one start. He had not played a minute until Frei went down with an injury earlier this month                                     

“It’s better this way because I had to fight for everything,” Kocic said. “Stef is a great goalkeeper. He’s consistent, he’s not going to make many mistakes and it’s going to be much harder for me to get a spot on the team. I like that, I like fighting for something. I don’t like getting stuff easy.”

When the chance did come, he took advantage of it.

“It's been a long two years without playing consistently for Toronto FC," he said. “But playing these games has helped my confidence, helped me feel more relaxed in the field."

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