Djordje Petrovic is getting positive reviews from his new teammates and coaches.
Petrovic is expected to be the starting goalkeeper for the New England Revolution when Matt Turner leaves for Arsenal after the Minnesota game on Jun. 19. This gives the 22-year-old Serbian two months to adjust to a new country and team.
So far, so good.
“It’s a new environment to what he’s used to,” Revolution goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock told The Bent Musket. “You’re used to the same people, the same structure and then everything is totally new.
“The time change is difficult at the beginning, so he’s over that one. Adapting to new coaching techniques, adapting to food, adapting to teammates and people around the building. He’s a great lad as well and he’s settling in really well, really fast.”
Before making the jump to MLS, Petrovic played three seasons with FK Čukarički in Serbia’s top flight. During this time, he played 86 games with 33 clean sheets and a 0.99 goals-against average across all competitions.
These stats are impressive, but there are always areas that can be improved. Hitchcock explained that he strives to be the best that he can be every day so that he can “get all the goalkeepers here to be the best that they can be every day.”
“There are a few aspects of [Petrovic’s] game which I’m trying to tidy up so he can be the all-around better goalkeeper that he can be,” Hitchcock said. “He’s adapting really well. He gets frustrated sometimes, but it’s normal. It’s going to take a little bit of time but we’re going to work hard on him every day, every week.”
One area that Petrovic is working on is catching the ball more often. Hitchcock explained, “A lot of European keepers are taught to parry the ball away, so he’s adjusting to trying to hold a few more and he’s getting a hang of it.”
Petrovic got his first game minutes in the United States when he backstopped Revs II in their 4-0 loss to Crew II. While the scoreline wasn’t flattering, Petrovic made an outstanding early save that showcased his ability.
Days later, Petrovic made his debut for the first team in a 5-1 win over FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup. Petrovic only made one save on the night, but it was a good one.
Hitchcock “absolutely” believes that Petrovic can be an elite MLS goalkeeper. This is in line with what Turner said earlier when he noted that the 6’4 goalkeeper is “way more talented” than he was at 22.
Petrovic is getting positive reviews from his other teammates as well. Jon Bell noted that while Petrovic has to deal with a language barrier, he’s “done really great in practice.” Fellow goalkeeper Jacob Jackson is impressed by his new colleague.
“He’s absolutely amazing,” Jackson said. “I love working with him. He’s the same age as me. His experience comes in and it’s unbelievable. He pushes me every day. He pushes the group. He’s a great addition to our group.”
While it will certainly be tough to follow Turner, who is the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, the Revs coaching staff is doing what they can to ready Petrovic.
“We’re preparing our new goalkeeper to replace [Turner],” head coach Bruce Arena told Zolak and Bertrand. “He’s getting Open Cup games. He’s in with us every day in training. He’s getting used to the team, the players, the environment. He’ll be prepared to move in for Matt once Matt leaves.”