LEWIS CENTER, Ohio – Judging by the comments from several of his new teammates, Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic can help the Columbus Crew in several areas where they were deficient in 2011. Most notably: putting some goals on the scoreboard.
“Hopefully he can bring that playmaking ability in the center field and is able to produce goals for us whether he’s playing in the middle or playing underneath up front,” defender Chad Marshall said. “That’s something that was lacking last year – goals from the midfield.”
Mirosevic, 31, made his preseason debut Tuesday with the Crew at the Super Kick/TeamZone indoor facility after signing a multi-year contract on Jan. 4.
“He tries to make goals outside the box,” defender and fellow Chilean Sebastián Miranda said. “Last year, we didn’t shoot a lot outside the box. Maybe he can help with that.”
The Crew acquired Mirosevic to not only improve the offense, but provide leadership after he captained Universidad Católica of the Chilean first division for the past three seasons, scoring 46 goals in 108 games during that span.
“The teammates have to start knowing me and the way I work,” he said. “We’ll see. I will not have a problem because I love what I do. I love my profession and respect it.”
Mirosevic should have an easier adjustment to MLS than Miranda did last season since he learned English in school many years ago.
“I played in Israel [in 2006-07] and I spoke English not so much, but it helped,” Mirosevic said. “I have it in my memory but I have to refresh it.”
Miranda spoke little English when he arrived a year ago, but by June was able to conduct interviews in his second language. Still, he told MLSsoccer.com this week that he didn’t feel as comfortable speaking up in the locker room as he would have liked because of the language barriers.
That shouldn’t be a problem for Mirosevic.
“You don’t always have to be that vocal guy in the locker room to be a leader,” Marshall said. “If he’s playing well he can lead by example on the field. I’m sure as he gets more accustomed to us he’ll be more vocal.”
Language wasn’t a problem for Mirosevic in his first practice as he was paired with the Spanish-speaking Miranda, Bernardo Anor and Carlos Mendes, along with rookie Ethan Finlay during scrimmages.
“I know a little Spanish,” Finlay said. “They were joking about that.”
Mirosevic let his play do the talking for him.
“His first touch is so clean,” Finlay said. “He knows where everyone is on the field. He knows where he’s going. He understands other players’ movements. You can tell he’s been a pro a long time. He’s very comfortable with the ball, even with pressure on him.”
Mirosevic is also being made to feel at ease in Columbus thanks to Miranda, who is letting him stay at his house until Mirosevic’s wife and 18-month-old daughter arrive from Chile in about a month.
He and Miranda speak Spanish when they are together, but Mirosevic is determined to integrate himself in his new surroundings on and off the field.
“Of course it’s easier [to speak Spanish], but I have to adapt myself here, not the other way,” he said. “I have to work on that so maybe I speak English all day, not just the two hours here [at practice].”