Djordje Mihailovic embracing change after trade to Montreal

The Impact are expecting a lot from Mihailovic. He didn’t think the Fire felt the same way, and Mihailovic is embracing the pressure in his new home.

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Djordje Mihailovic is embracing the trade to Montreal.

Courtesy of the Fire

The Montreal Impact are expecting a lot from Djordje Mihailovic. He didn’t think the Fire felt the same way.

“The last four years with Chicago, I kind of felt like I was looked at as a little brother,” Mihailovic said Monday during his introductory Zoom teleconference after being traded to the Impact. “I would get a couple of goals, I would get some more assists here and there, I’d be called into the national team, but I felt like I was always looked at as this young, homegrown player, not expecting too much from him. He will provide [scoring] but is also disposable.

“That’s what I felt. But when I come here to Montreal, I feel that commitment to me. I feel that expectation [on] me and the pressure on my shoulders that I need, and that’s going to help me improve as a player. To have these things in my pocket, the expectations, the pressure, the challenges, that’s how players improve, and I think that’s what I need the most to improve as a player — the pressure and the challenge.”

Mihailovic, 22, said his four years with the Fire senior team went exactly how he wanted them to go. He played for his hometown club, made six appearances with the U.S. national team, showed improvement and learned a lot about himself as a player in the past year.

But at the same time, the Lemont native made it clear that something different was best for him. Now he’s getting a new contract, reportedly worth more than $700,000 per season, and also has the chance to work under one of the sport’s all-time greats in coach Thierry Henry.

“Every player comes to a moment where maybe a change is the best thing for them to grow as a player,” he said. “I felt at the time last season, I kind of reached a point where I was with my family and something needed to be done if I wanted to continue on this journey that I set before I started playing.

“Obviously, it’s sad to walk away from a team that you love, that you grew up watching and then you end up growing up and playing for them. It’s definitely a sad moment, but it happens in this sport. It happens in every sport where sometimes change is the best.”

When pressed further, Mihailovic didn’t specify when he decided it was time to leave the Fire. It was certainly well before the trade became official. In return, the Fire received $800,000 in guaranteed allocation money that could rise to $1 million.

“It was awhile,” Mihailovic said. “I’m not going to say anything specific right now, but it was awhile. My family and I have been talking about this — what’s best for me, and the same with my advisers that I work with. It’s just one of those things where it’s sad, but after a while, things need to be changed.”

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