With two goals in three matches, Chicago Fire midfielder Luka Stojanovic is off to a great start in 2021, especially considering he missed practically all of last season to injury.
But while he’s thriving individually, his team is struggling, with just one point in the standings thus far. Stojanovic told reporters this week it’s tough to celebrate individual success when the team has yet to win.
“It’s not easy. It’s not easy,” Stojanovic said. “I mean, we are not so much an experienced team, but the way we ended the last game was not good enough for us because we did not make a lot of chances and we didn’t play our football maybe for, I’d say, 30 or 45, the second half especially, 45 minutes.
“I think this is a signal (that) we must wake up. Each of us need to start from ourselves and this is the week where we play home against a fantastic team, Philly, and I think maybe we need to change the season on that game.”
Stojanovic said his knee, which was surgically repaired after suffering an MCL tear against the San Jose Earthquakes at the MLS is Back Tournament last summer, is fully back to normal—”everything there is behind me, and the knee now is okay.” Despite being subbed off a couple of times, he said he’s fully match fit, too. Now, it’s about getting the team turned around, starting Saturday against the Philadelphia Union (noon CT, WGN and CFFC Live).
“I make a good job by making two goals, but I also can improve myself much more and to put my teammates also up for next games to catch the point, because this is the most important right now,” he said. “And about my personal goals and all of that, I can tell you, but the most important is victories and points and the table. We need to be up on the top in the place where we can play in the playoffs.”
You might notice one more big change for Stojanovic in 2021—rather than having his last name on his jersey as he did last season, this year he’s opted to go with just “Luka.”
“I was every time ‘Luka’ since I started to play professional, and just before I came here, I didn’t remember that I need to say that,” he explained. “And for first year, I was Stojanovic. But actually, I think it’s much easier to say just Luka than Stojanovic.”
Give 100%, then something extra.— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) April 30, 2021
Luka lists another guy who wore No. 8, former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, as his favorite player—he even shows off his Gerrard biography on a recent episode of the Fire’s excellent “No Little Plans” video series. Like Gerrard, Stojanovic said it’s not enough to be on a team. He wants to contribute in a big way, like he did at FK Cukaricki in Serbia, where he was known for adding a scoring punch from the midfield—hitting double digits in goals in his last two seasons there.
Now, it’s about finding that “something extra”—as he said in the Fire’s documentary-style video—to help turn around the Fire’s season.
“The feeling we feel now, we don’t want to feel anymore,” Stojanovic said.