Rusmir looks to break language barrier at Crew

Serbian midfielder gradually acclimating to United States, MLS

Dejan Rusmir

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

OBETZ, Ohio – Italian-born Crew communications manager Marco Rosa can converse in Spanish with Emilio Renteria just as easily as he can talk to Leandre Griffit in the French midfielder’s native tongue.

In addition to also being fluent in English and Italian, Rosa can dabble in German. But when it comes to communicating with new midfielder Dejan Rusmir (pronounced DE-yan ROOS-meer), he’s at a loss for words.

“I don’t know Serbian,” Rosa said.

Rusmir, who trained with the Crew during preseason in Arizona in February and signed with the club on March 9, does know some English.

“I can communicate with him,” coach Robert Warzycha said.

However, Rusmir is not yet comfortable talking to the media in English, and therein lies a dilemma.

“It’s a little harder for Dejan, but it’s also a cultural thing,” Rosa said. “The players feel more comfortable if there’s someone who speaks their native language and does know their culture.”

Finding a translator for Hispanic players such as Rentería, forward Andres Mendoza and defender Sebastian Miranda is easy because, in addition to Rosa, several American players speak Spanish and the Crew’s Argentine assistant coach Ricardo Iribarren learned English when he came to America in 1996.

Warzycha knows how Rusmir feels. He spoke no English when he went from his Polish homeland to play in England in 1991.

“It’s going to take some time and he recognizes that,” Warzycha said. “He’s going to learn some words that are useful to play the game. Probably the first six months he’s not going to understand much because we speak too fast for him.”

Even when a player learns enough English to get by, he is often reluctant to conduct interviews. That was usually the case for former Crew forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto in his first two seasons.

“Obviously, a player doesn’t want to say something [in English] they don’t mean or it’s wrong,” Rosa said. “They feel more comfortable having someone they can talk to that can translate for them and convey what they mean.”

When Schelotto’s English improved, he spoke to the media in English in 2009 and ’10.

In order to get a few comments from Rusmir, MLSsoccer.com recently wrote some questions that were translated into Serbian by Google Translate.

For instance, “What will be the most difficult adjustment coming to a new country, new league and new team?” is translated as:

“Шта ће бити најтеже прилагођавање долази у нову земљу, нови савез и новом тиму?”

His response — written in English by a friend — was: “I think the only difficulty will be language because everybody is really nice and willing to help me on and off the field.”