Djordje Mihailovic is a bit media shy so when a dozen reporters circled around him after the MLS Homegrown Game at Toyota Park, he was a bit flustered at first.
"Oh my word," he muttered aloud at the crowd of reporters facing him, microphones, cameras and phones pointed in his direction.
Mihailovic, the Chicago Fire's 18-year-old rookie homegrown midfielder, scored a goal in the first minute. The MLS homegrowns, comprised of players 20 years old or younger and signed out of MLS academies, played Chivas Guadalajara's under-20 team to a 2-2 draw on Tuesday in one of the support events for Wednesday's All-Star Game against Real Madrid.
“It’s every kid’s dream to score in front of the home crowd," Mihailovic said. "To play in the All-Star Game, represent the home club and home city, to score is another thing to add to that so I’m definitely honored and it was a great experience for me.”
Mihailovic roamed in different positions in a slightly unorthodox setup selected by coaches Brian McBride and Mike Magee, both former Fire players from Chicagoland, for a team that had just one training session together before playing the match. To start the match, Mihailovic played as the team's striker and delivered the early goal.
“It was important," McBride said. "An early goal, especially a new group of guys, it just gives you more energy. The game was pretty spread out and giving that early goal sort of I think caused them a little bit of, not concern, but question marks, and it gave us really the positive feedback of pressing early and winning those balls and going forward quickly.
"It was really, really good for us to get that early goal and I’m happy for Djordje.”
Another bonus for the Lemont native is that he had plenty of family there to watch him.
“There was a lot of family," Mihailovic said with a laugh. "My sister flew back from college to watch so I’m glad I scored in front of her.”
Mihailovic captained the team and found out right before the game. He said he was in shock at leading the team out of the tunnel to start the match.
After playing in just one game, totaling one minute, in the Fire's first 10 matches, Mihailovic has become a more regular sub under coach Veljko Paunovic. Mihailovic hasn't made a start yet, but has subbed into four of the last five Fire matches. As a result of the more regular playing time, Mihailovic said his confidence has gone up.
“It started about a month ago when I started continuously getting in games consecutively," he said. "Right now, scoring a goal, my confidence is definitely rising even more.”
Colorado Rapids defender Kortne Ford scored on a header on the last play of the game to tie the match. It sparked a big celebration for the MLS players.
“We’re here to have fun, but we’re also here to win because no homegrown team has won and a tie is a tie, but try to get the win because it’s a competitive game,” Mihailovic said.