“This year (2012), it’s like you don’t track your man and they score, it doesn’t matter, let’s move on. Conceding a goal was so easy and for me I was very competitive, it just like killed me at the end. I lost it at the end too. I kind of like melted into the whole thing. I really cared at the beginning and probably until the end of the season, then after that I got my kids and stuff and everything just changed.”
Toronto has paid for its constant change, he says.
“If you keep changing like this, you’re never going to have any results.”
Kocic speaks his mind. But his glass is usually half-full rather than half-empty. He wishes Toronto sports fans shared his view.
“It’s a weird city. They only see negatives. I don’t see these negatives,” he said.
While he doesn’t sugar-coat TFC’s failure in the league, he wonders why supporters don’t savour more the club’s domestic and CONCACAF cup success.
“I think this city didn’t appreciate that Nutrilite Cup (now Amway Canadian Championship) – winning it three, four years in a row. Champions League semifinal, the biggest result in the club’s history, nobody ever said anything about it.”
“I can say that I was a part of all the best results this club has – and all of the worst results this club has,” he mused.
Kocic’s current contract expires at the end of this year. He doesn’t hide the fact that he believes he deserves more.
“Of course you care,” he said of the paycheque. “You play and never know what injuries are going to happen and you have to take care of your family.
“Of course I’m mad that I see the players that are making 10 times more money than me and don’t contribute anything to the team and then you make 10 times less money than them and you give your heart on the field and they don’t even say thank you. They don’t even say congratulations.”
Of the 18 goalies who started 20 or more games last season, Kocic was the worst-paid at $44,100, according to the MLS Players Union. Fourteen earned more than $120,000. Only three (Bill Hamid of D.C. United, Josh Saunders of Los Angeles, and Andy Gruenebaum of Columbus) made less than $100,000 and each of those collected more than $77,000.
Kocic is a proud man who says he does his best when his coaches demonstrate they have his back. Little things matter to him.
When the triplets arrived, a local beat reporter gave him a Baby Gap gift certificate to help buy clothes. He hugged the journalist, later confiding that the team hadn’t even sent his wife flowers in the hospital.
“The players they do care about, they do treat nice,” he said.
But apparently no one can count on that support. Kocic cites a player who was the flavour of the month in 2012. Thinking he was in a position to dictate terms, the player went in and asked for a pay hike. The club rejected the request out of hand.
While his soccer career may have been checkered in Toronto, Kocic will always have ties to the city. He met wife Evelyn here – he was on a date with another woman at the time – and the two got married Aug. 8 in advance of the arrival of the triplets: daughter Soleil and sons Leo and Milos.
“It’s a blessing,” Kocic said of the unexpected baby bonanza.
Kocic’s mother has come over from Serbia to help the couple with the babies. Kocic, his mother and wife look after the kids in shifts during the evening and night.
“It’s been a year, a lot things happened but my life has always been like that,” Kocic concludes. “A lot of turbulence in my life and everything but I’m used to that.”
His journey continues.
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