On Dec. 15, 2019, Luka Stojanović dropped the mic on the Serbian SuperLiga.
In his final match with FK Cukaricki before transferring to Major League Soccer, the 26-year-old midfielder left a 60-yard imprint on the country’s top flight with a dazzling goal from distance against Red Star Belgrade.
“It was crazy,” he recalled. “Nobody could believe it. Even the fans stood and applauded. But when they saw that I scored, they started to shout bad things because I played at Partizan (laughs). But in the first few moments, they were impressed.”
Stojanović grew up in the academy system at Partizan Belgrade -- Red Star Belgrade’s biggest rival -- and enjoyed productive stints in Portugal, Cyprus, and Belgium before ultimately returning to Serbia.
The above finish, his 12th of the season for the Belgrade-based FK Cukaricki in all competitions, put an exclamation point on his second-straight campaign scoring 10+ goals from the attacking midfield.
“That’s my favorite goal,” he said. “In the Serbian league, for the best goal in the round, you get a watch. This was the fourth time in Serbia that I scored the goal of the round. I have also a few from Belgium and a few from Cyprus where I played, but this one for sure is the most beautiful.”
The shot was a microcosm of Stojanović’s approach to his craft, and no less the attitude he hopes to bring to his first season in MLS. Where there’s challenge -- a move across the world without family, an adjustment to Chicago while in quarantine, a shot from beyond the midfield line -- Stojanović only sees opportunity.
“You just need to be positive and put your goals in front of you,” he said. “I said I was going to try (the shot), and I believed I was going to do it. In that moment, everything was perfect.”
Despite a generally withdrawn role in the attack, Stojanović has long fancied himself a goal-scorer. His 12 tallies last season in Serbia followed up a 2018-19 campaign in which he scored 11 times and added seven assists for good measure.
"I like to score goals,” Stojanović told ChicagoFireFC.com when he first arrived in Chicago in March. “The first (priority) is to have good results with the club. My first personal ambition is to score more than 10 goals in the season. I have already done it three times since I started professional football. I think this a good way to help the team also, to take important points.”
Stojanović is one of 17 new faces on the Fire’s 2020 roster, several of whom will look to make their MLS debut in the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament. He’s confident his flair for finishing from midfield (and beyond) can contribute to the league’s long legacy of highlight-reel imports.
“Sometimes maybe they think I’m crazy, but I think I can do it.”
While dreams of scoring from distance sustained him during the quarantine period, Stojanović will look to get back to his goal-scoring ways when the Fire take on Nashville SC on Wednesday’s opening night of the MLS is Back Tournament (9:30 p.m. CT | ESPN).
“I am so happy because we are going to start playing football again,” he said. “We’ve been training for this. We are going to be able to show our self in the game, where everybody will be watching, and I hope we can get a good result in the group.”