Updated: July 30, 2014 11:00PM
Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen on the field at Toyota Park on Wednesday night was a routine substitution in the 62nd minute. What made that substitution notable, however, was that it marked the MLS debut of midfielder Razvan Cocis, who earned his first competitive appearance with the Fire after subbing in against Tottenham.
While not a big name in the rumor mills like Jermaine Jones, who has had his name pop up in talks with the Fire, Cocis addresses a definite need to balance and support the midfield, something head coach Frank Yallop has repeatedly stressed amidst the team’s attempted climb into playoff contention.
Cocis did not do anything remarkable in his debut, but what the midfielder showed was the sort of solid, stable play one would expect from a veteran player.
“He hasn’t trained much with us; he’s mostly been doing his own work,” Yallop said. “He did okay though… He’s a clean and simple player, and once he gets his legs under him and becomes more a part of the team, things will get easier and easier for him.”
What is perhaps more captivating about Cocis than his first 30 minutes of MLS action, however, is the story of how he got here, and why.
Cocis played fifty games for the Romanian national team, most recently played for FC Hozerla Uzhhorod in the Ukraine. Cocis told the Fire’s official website that soccer takes on a different tone in the Ukraine.
“In these times, in Ukraine, it’s not hard to play football,” Cocis said. “But it’s very hard to concentrate on the game.” Cocis fled the Ukraine due to the unsettled political climate in the country, finding stability and comfort for him and his family in Chicago. “I was thinking about safety for my family and we decided not to go back to Ukraine,” he continued.
Having arrived and settled in the United States, Cocis unfortunately had his debut spoiled by the result of the game. Despite the positive step forward that a 0-0 draw may have represented for the Fire, following a disastrous 5-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, Cocis was not satisfied.
“It feels great to be out on the field,” Cocis said. “But it’s hard to be too happy when we didn’t win the game. We’re out here to win, so we can’t be happy with the results.”
Despite the minor setback, Cocis is happy with his new team, and appears ready to move on with the season.
“Everyone here has treated me very nicely,” Cocis said. “I know that American people are very kind and welcoming, and I’ve seen that here. I’ve felt like I’m one of them, from the first day… I’m here now [in the MLS] and I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t plan on sticking around.”