Aleksander Radovanović, We Hardly Knew Ye

Years ago, ok like almost thirty years ago, my parents sent me off to some summer day camp for two weeks because that’s what you do when you have kids (my son is currently at a soccer day camp as I’m typing this, we’ve gone full circle people). The camp was fun, and I remember it perfectly overlapping with the 1994 NBA Finals and all the wild things that were happening in sports that June. At the camp, I met a kid my age named Henry.

Henry was one of the coolest kids I had ever met. We made sure to be on the same dodgeball team (back when headshots were not only allowed, they were encouraged), we’d play some Connect Four, and then wrap up the day with some H-O-R-S-E. He was my camp-BFF.

And then, the summer camp ended and I never saw Henry again. Before dial-up internet, cell phones, or Twitter, you’d meet a kid somewhere and then you’d never, ever see them again.

I’m sure I attended a bunch of those camps every summer, but I remember that one fondly, and Henry is the biggest reason why. I didn’t know him for very long, but to this day I appreciate the impact, albeit a short one, he had on my life.

Maybe your Henry is an ex-boyfriend that you dated for a couple months.

Maybe your Henry is someone you met in line at Franklin Barbecue.

Or maybe your Henry is Aleksander Radovanović.

Josh Wolff confirmed on Saturday night’s post-game presser that the 3-0 smashing of Houston was Rado’s last match for the Verde & Black.

Today, June 30, is the formal end of the loan move from KV Kortrijk.

We first learned about Radovanović in late March after bringing him in to address the dire (and I cannot understate how dire things truly were) need at center back. I think it’s safe to say that we knew that the move could result in no significant change in our fortunes, but we needed a healthy body at the back.

After figuring out all the Visa requirements, making his way to Austin, and integrating himself to the team, we first saw Rado in action after being subbed on in the 88’ during the defeat against FC Dallas in mid-May (ok maybe that doesn’t really count but it is his first official appearance).

He got his first start four days later against then-Western Conference leader Seattle that resulted in this text exchange with my friend Ceci:

In his first start for the Verde & Black, we took down a Sounders team that was, at the time, first in the Western Conference. In fact, Seattle didn’t score while Radovanović was on the field.

Fast forward to the next time that Rado saw significant minutes: a home victory against Minnesota which saw him earn the ‘Save of the Match’ for his sick clearance of a Minnesota cross that helped Austin FC preserve the victory (feel like I also have to shout out Stuver for that game. My guy must have had like 8 saves in the final minutes). That clearance also happened after he dislocated his shoulder earlier that evening…only to pop it back into place.

Let’s, uh, conveniently forget about his start against Kansas City and just focus on his last two starts: two clean sheets against hated rivals FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo at Q2.

In the matches in which Radovanović played at least 45 minutes, Austin earned 12 out of a possible 15 points. It was starting to look like he was forming a strong partnership with Julio Cascante, who was named to the MLS Team of the Matchday for two consecutive matches after his performances against Dallas and Houston. For what was essentially an emergency loan, Rado was absolutely earning his place in the squad and making supporters think that picking up his buy-option was the smart thing to do.

Alas, it was not to be.

On the club’s side of things, it would have been tough to justify spending money on a transfer fee for Rado in addition to a new contract when Cascante and Leo Väisänen earn a combined $1.3 million salary. Keep in mind that Rado is currently making $430,000 a season through his deal with Belgian club Kortrijk; his new deal with Austin FC would likely see him make over half a million dollars a season. That’s a lot of money to invest for a player with obvious shoulder issues.

But you have to take risks if you’re Austin FC right? Well, happy wife, happy life. Apparently Rado’s wife was not feeling the Central Texas vibe (can you blame her with this brutal heat) and wanted to move back to Belgium ASAP. I don’t know how good your Serbian is, but apparently she discusses her feelings in this Vlog post.

I’ve obviously never been in Rado’s position, but maybe he should have consulted former World Cup Champion Emmanuel Petit before agreeing to anything. In an interview with Four Four Two Magazine, Petit revealed why he agreed to a transfer from North London club Arsenal to Barcelona back in 2000:

I guess it may be too late for Radovanović to reconsider.

In the end, Austin FC supporters will always remember Rado’s brief stint with Austin FC in a very positive light: he played hurt, he played hard, and he played well. We didn’t know him for very long, and I think I speak for every supporter when I say that we appreciate the impact, albeit a short one, he had on our season.

Thank you Rado and godspeed.

Cover image courtesy of Austin FC.

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