After a month of training at U.S. Men’s National Team camp in California, two starts for new U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter, a memorable goal in his Stars and Stripes debut against Panama, and a transatlantic flight overseas, midfielder Djordje Mihailović touched down in Spain early Monday morning to rejoin the Chicago Fire and begin his preparations for the 2019 MLS season.
Tossing any potential jet lag to the side, the 20-year-old is ready to get to work.
“I adjusted myself the night before I flew here,” Mihailović said. “I stayed up, got ready. Now I’m ready to train and get ready for games. I don’t need a nap. I don’t need rest. I’m ready (laughs).”
One of the standout performers for the USMNT during its recently completed January Camp, Mihailović earned his first two caps and first two starts for the senior national team in friendly victories against Panama and Costa Rica.
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He arrives in Madrid with a brief head start in returning to full match fitness ahead of the Club’s 2019 season opener at the LA Galaxy on March 2 (7 p.m. CT, FS1).
“It was two-and-a-half weeks of two trainings a day in one campus,” he said. “Once we got to Arizona, things started going quick as we prepared for games. It was tough and fun.”
Despite not fully knowing to expect from his first call-in to the U.S. setup, Mihailović credited his successful early returns for the senior squad with his offseason training regimen and a willingness to learn.
“It was a mixture of everything,” he said. “(Fire Strength and Conditioning Coach) Petar (Milčanović) and the Fire staff gave me a great program to work on before I went to camp, which really prepared my physically. Then, my ability to adapt to what Gregg and his staff wanted from each player was also a big key factor into my success there.”
Up next for Mihailović: keeping the positive momentum going, catching up with teammates old and new, and getting up to speed with Veljko Paunović’s plans ahead of the Club’s next preseason friendly, a meeting with Spanish Segunda División B side CF Fuenlabrada on Wednesday.
“I feel fit,” he said. “They want to limit my minutes (coming out of U.S. camp), which is smart, but I’m ready. I feel good. Let’s start the season.”