“If I see that they don’t care about their players, I’m not in a very good relationship with people,” Kocic said of his coaches. “If I see that we’re in sync, then I’m going to die for you, I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
Kocic played four league games for D.C. United in 2009, plus CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup games. He made it all the way to the U.S. Open Cup final against Seattle, only to have coach Tommy Soehn opt to start Wicks in the championship game.
“I was very mad. I earned my spot,” said Kocic.
Ironically Wicks was red-carded in the 69th minute with D.C. down 1-0. Kocic came in and lost 2-1.
When Soehn was let go, Curt Onalfo – the coach he thought had wanted him in Kansas City – took over the next pre-season.
“I thought I’d be for sure playing. I played great. I had six games, six shutouts. And I started every game. And I wasn’t good enough.”
Kocic, who took up a valuable foreigner spot on the roster, was released at 4 p.m. during pre-season in Florida. Within two hours, Toronto FC, whose pre-season base was across the street, had signed him.
Not all was good. His girlfriend lived in the U.S. capital. “All of a sudden, there was pretty much a lot of mess.”
In 2010, with Preki as Toronto’s head coach, Kocic found himself behind Frei and Jon Conway on the depth chart. Wanting to play, he convinced the team to loan him out to the Serbian White Eagles of the Canadian Soccer League.
“It was a great experience for me, otherwise I’d be not sitting all the time, not playing. I told Preki I didn’t want to travel with the team if I don’t play,” he recalled.
“I am a proud person but I’m not stupid,” he added. “Now kids today, they think they deserve to play all the time ... you have to earn everything.”
In 2011, Kocic started the season backing up Frei under the new Aron Winter regime. After spending the first half of the season on the bench, he went to see Winter and assistant coach Bob de Klerk.
“I said ‘Guys, I’m ready to play,“’ he recalled.
He got his chance July 27 in a CONCACAF Champions League game against visiting Real Esteli FC of Nicaragua.
Already pumped up for the game, his emotions went through the roof when his girlfriend told him that morning she was moving back to Washington, D.C., and breaking up with him.
“That whole day, I was in a state,” he said.
A Kocic blunder cost a goal that night. Up 2-0, Kocic raced after a ball in the corner of the penalty box. When he failed to hang on, a Real Esteli player pounced on it and slotted it into the goal.
“We won the game and I said ‘That’s not going to happen again,“’ said Kocic.
He played well in the Real Esteli rematch and then excelled in a league match at Real Salt Lake. An injury to Frei opened the door and, as the 2011 season wound down, Kocic had forced his way into the starting lineup.
Kocic began 2012 with high hopes. Toronto kicked off the campaign with the two-legged CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final against the Los Angeles Galaxy in early March.
Winter called in both goalies, telling them Frei would get the start in Toronto and Kocic would play the second leg in Los Angeles. The first game ended in a 2-2 tie at the Rogers Centre and Toronto won the rematch 2-1 at the Home Depot Center.
Next up – following an enthusiastic team celebration – was the season opener in Seattle.
“Before that game Aron called both of us to come downstairs in the lobby and said ‘OK Milos is going to start the first five games of the season and if he doesn’t do well, Stef is going to take over.’ So that’s how my season started, as a starter.”
Kocic played in Seattle, losing 3-1. Then Frei suffered a season-ending leg injury in practice back home in Toronto.