When he was signed this past January, Crew fans may have been expecting loads of goals coming from the feet of Milovan Mirosevic. After all, the attack-minded midfielder had scored 81 goals across his 14 previous years playing professionally in Chile, Argentina, and Israel.
The Chilean has tallied just two goals in his first season in Black & Gold as he adapts to more of a box-to-box role with the Crew, but has provided a veteran presence in Robert Warzycha's midfield to lead the team by example. Warzycha says Mirosevic's leadership qualities are part of what attracted the club's technical staff to the Chilean in the offseason.
"[Mirosevic] is an incredible player," Warzycha said of his midfielder. "He's played for his national team. He was the captain for [Universidad] Catolica. He won championships. We brought him [to Columbus] not only to play, but also because the younger players can learn from him how to be a good professional."
Mirosevic did just that by making an immediate impact in the Crew locker room, especially on younger players like second-year midfielder Cole Grossman.
"To be honest, I think [Mirosevic's] influence has been more off the field," Grossman said of his teammate. "I can't say enough about the kind of guy he is as a person, as a leader."
"As a veteran on this team, he's been an unbelievable influence in the locker room," the midfielder continued. "Personally, I'm really grateful to have him on the team. He's a smart guy, a really good player, and person. I think it's cool to be around someone who has that much experience and treats the young guys so well."
Mirosevic himself says his leadership in the locker room and guidance on the field is something that comes naturally to the 32-year-old midfielder.
"I don't think it's really a responsibility, but I feel like it's a normal thing," the Chilean expained. "I try to talk all the time [on the field]. It's natural to me. I've been doing this a long time. In Chile, it was sort of the same thing. It's normal, and of course, you need players who can talk a lot on the field because once the game starts the coach doesn't play out there. It's very hard in that way for the coach."
He continued, "It's normal for young guys when they start that they are always looking to the older guys; what they're doing, what they don't do. In my experience, I have to be there for them when they need advice or if I see some things that are really wrong in their movements or whatever. It's hard to say whether they take it or not, but it's up to me to as an older guy to teach with my experience."
Mirosevic is undecided on what may loom when his playing career is over, but coaching may be the first step in his post-playing career in soccer a few years down the road.
"For sure, my post-career life is going to be dedicated to soccer," he explained. "I don't know in what way, but it will be for sure."
Regardless, he's made a fan out of his younger teammate in Grossman.
"I've told him before that I think he'd be a really good coach," Grossman said. "If that's the route he wants to go, he'd be a really good coach one day."