FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After making the move from Europe to Major League Soccer last season, Serbian strike partners Marko Perovic and Ilija Stolica spent equal parts of 2010 adapting both on and off the field.
In addition to their adjustment to the league’s physical style of play and the much-discussed travel requirements of playing in the United States – not to mention an entirely new set of teammates – Perovic and Stolica spent their time away from Gillette Stadium focusing on their personal lives. Both players endured a waiting period before their families could join them Stateside, while they also dealt with everyday issues like finding an apartment and buying a car.
But now with such mundane-yet-time-consuming tasks no longer a concern and preseason training underway, the pair is expecting a more comfortable situation in 2011.
“[Last year] was the first time I’d experienced coming into a team halfway through the season without [going through] preseason with the team,” said Stolica, who made 14 appearances in 2010 after signing with the Revs on July 30. “It’s difficult because you don’t know the guys, you’re [learning] mostly during the games and it’s hard.
“I think now it’s going to be much more comfortable and much better for me and for the team, because I can’t wait to spend preseason with the team,” he continued. “I already know the group, I know the atmosphere and that makes it easier for me.”
Perovic had a similar experience – although to a lesser extent – after spending one week with the Revolution during the 2010 preseason, then joining the club one day before the home opener against Toronto FC. While he had almost the entire year to adjust and ultimately earned the club’s MVP award, Perovic noted the difficulty of learning on the fly during the season as opposed to making a smooth transition through preseason, a luxury he’s looking forward to this year.
Now that he’s settled in New England, Perovic can also spend his time away from the field focusing on an important task he admittedly put on the back burner last year.
“I’ve [spoken] with Ilija about looking for (English) schools,” said Perovic, who is still a little shy about his grasp of the language. “Last season it was [getting my family to the U.S.], adapting – all of those things you must do before learning English.
“But this year I think we’ll look for schools and I can go [to classes] two or three times during the week,” continued Perovic, who has the benefit of assistance from the multilingual Stolica. “It must [get] better. I understand (English). I understand everything when people talk, but speaking is not easy. For me, it’s important to understand.”
Perhaps even more important than learning English is the comfort level afforded to both Perovic and Stolica now that their families have begun their new lives in New England. After spending much of 2010 away from their wives and children while the necessary travel documents were acquired, both players can now resume a level of normalcy at home.
As a result, Perovic and Stolica will be able to focus their efforts on the soccer field without the headache of outside distractions.
“My wife and child are here and to be honest, they like it,” said Stolica, who has a two-year old son named Konstantin with his wife Jelena. “They like it even more than me if that’s possible.
“It’s very important to me that my family likes it here in Boston and they are enjoying it,” he continued. “When you’re happy at home and it’s a good atmosphere like it is here, I’m really happy and I’m enjoying my time.”