“I was so pissed off. I was like ‘Oh my God, I don’t like the States, I don’t like America, I want to go home.’ It took me probably six months to get accustomed to the culture.“’ Red-shirted as a freshman, Kocic didn’t play. But he grew to love New York, especially at Christmas.
“It’s probably one of the best cities I’ve lived in. After a while I learned the city, I learned everything about it. It felt so good to live there.”
His scholarship was worth $500 a month spending money. Rent – with four living in two rooms in half a house – was $300-$350 a month although he got $50 off for doing the garbage every night.
He got a job in a mail room, then met some Serbians who were managing condos. He did everything from working as a doorman to babysitting to get some spending money.
“I did a lot of different things and it just made me appreciate everything,” he said.
He did not appreciate St. John’s soccer, however. Constant 7 a.m. training runs, no matter the weather, turned him off. The U.S. Army trained at same place “and they were training inside and we were training outside.”
“And I’m a goalkeeper. All I was doing was running. I haven’t caught a ball, I was running, running, running. I was like, ‘OK I’m sick of this I see I’m not going to progress, I’m not going to get better, I’m just going to run.“’ A fellow Serb, midfielder Rade Kokovic, was playing at Loyola in Baltimore. Kocic visited the campus and fell in love with it.
At Loyola, Kocic got a full ride plus generous expenses. As a red-shirt at St. John’s, he did not have to sit out a year although he had to wait a year for senior Justin Chelland to graduate.
“My impression of Milos was that he was obviously extremely athletic, a good presence, very competitive and that he was always going to get better, that he had all the tools to get better because he was just so athletic and so agile and such a big presence,” said Mettrick.
When Chelland left, it was Kocic’s time and he started every game the next two seasons. But first he studied the school record book.
“Before the year started, I don’t know why but I walked upstairs to see the records of everybody who played there. And I wanted to see the record for the most shutouts for the team, how many and how many games he played.”
It was Zach Thornton and 17 shutouts in a season.
“I was like ‘OK, I’m going to try to do that.’ I ended up that year with 17 shutouts.”
He also took time to learn about Thornton, who came from modest means to excel on the soccer field.
Kocic finished his Loyola collegiate career as a starter with a 37-5-2 record and 29 shutouts from 2006 to 2008. He also left with a degree in international business.
To this day, he is a big man on the Baltimore campus.
Kocic went to the 2009 MLS combine after a trial with D.C. United that included a visit to RFK Stadium.
“I looked at the stadium and said ‘OK I’m going to play here one day.’ And my dream came true.”
Still, he thought he would be picked by Kansas City. Instead D.C. United took him 21st overall, the second goalie behind Toronto’s Stefan Frei (13th overall).
D.C. United already had Louis Crayton, Josh Wicks and a young Bill Hamid in goal. But Kocic was happy since Washington was close to Baltimore, where his girlfriend lived.
But his soccer learning curve was just beginning.
“I was a rookie, I was very immature about some things. I thought it was going to be as easy as college. I thought I was going to play for sure and that’s the wrong mentality.”
Like most, Kocic craves support. He says he didn’t get it from his position coach at D.C. United. Frei did in Toronto, where he worked with Mike Toshack, now Portland’s goalkeeping coach.Report Typo/Error