Milos Kocic has learned to be patient as a goalkeeper.
He had to be patient in 2010 after he was let go by D.C. United, waiting for a new team to call. When the phone rang and he was picked up by Toronto FC, he had to be patient before earning the chance to play for his new squad.
When the chance came, thanks to an injury to de fact No. 1 Stefan Frei, Kocic got on the field and had to learn more patience. Whether it was working on how to play breakaways or marshal his backline, there was a learning curve every time he stepped out onto the field.
When he stepped out on Wednesday night against the Galaxy, it all came together for him – particularly in one spectacular moment in the 74th minute.
Landon Donovan put Robbie Keane into the clear as TFC were defending a 2-1 lead in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. Kocic waited, Keane waited.
Finally, the DP striker shot, attempting to chip Kocic, but the ‘keeper’s patience paid off. The 26-year-old Serbian stayed big, clawing the shot away with his right arm and keeping the precious, one-goal cushion.
“I was waiting for him to make the first move,” Kocic told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday night. “He’s an experienced player and he was waiting for the ‘keeper to make the first move, obviously. But I was patient and that helped me make the save.”
Kocic had other spectacular moments on the night. He stopped Mike Magee, who was in alone in the 17th minute, and Keane point blank in the 51st.
The Reds went on to win 4-3 on aggregate, becoming the first Canadian team to reach the semifinals of the CCL. The whole fan base had to wait a long, long time for such a positive result, but – as with Kocic – their patience paid off.
“We’re all very proud,” Kocic said. “The whole city should be proud of us. It’s a great result.”
And now Kocic’s patience may be paying off again. His form has been so good that he’s now seriously challenging Frei for the job as No. 1 ‘keeper.
There has been no official declaration of a winner yet, as TFC prepare to open their MLS regular season slate at Seattle on Saturday (10 pm ET; MLS Live).
“I know Steve is ready, I’m ready,” Kocic said. “Whatever they do I don’t think it’s going to be much difference because we’re both ready.”
Ready, and patiently waiting.