European Soccer

Mid-Day Ticker: Anderlecht eyes Kljestan extension, Spector fit for playoff & more

Kljestan (Getty Images)

On the heels of a campaign in which Sacha Kljestan was a focal point in helping lead Anderlecht to a Belgian league championship, the club is hoping to lock up the U.S. midfielder for the long term. 

Kljestan's current deal with Anderlecht runs through 2014, but according to Belgian outlet Het Niuewsblad, Anderlecht is looking to extend Kljestan's stay in Belgium for two or three more years beyond then.

This season, which has two games remaining, was Kljestan's second since leaving Chivas USA for Europe, and it has been his finest as a professional. In a regular central midfield role for Anderlecht, Kljestan played in 46 games (45 starts) and scored five goals, helping the club to the league title and a place in the UEFA Europa League's knockout round.

Here are a few more stories from around the soccer world:


Jonathan Spector's return to the field for Birmingham City came at a crucial time for the club, trailing 1-0 on the road with a berth in the League Championship promotion playoff final on the line. It turned out to be a turning point for Birmingham, according to manager Chris Hughton, who opted to try and manage the deficit with composure in the midfield instead of push for the equalizer on the road.

"At 1-0 we’re still in with a chance, at 2-0 it’s a lot more difficult on Wednesday," Hughton told the Birmingham Mail. "Once you get to that stage there are two ways you can go. You can push very hard for the equaliser, or you make sure you don’t fall further behind. Bringing Jonathan in stabilized things. The ironic part was that was the period where we got our best chance of the game."

Spector had missed more than a month with a thigh injury before coming off the bench in the 74th minute of Friday's first leg, and he is fit and has been included on the roster for Wednesday's crucial second leg against Blackpool, with Birmingham needing to overturn that 1-0 deficit to advance to the playoff final against Spector's former team, West Ham.


The FIFA Fair Play rankings for the 2011-2012 cycle are out, and Norway, Finland and the Netherlands have all benefitted by receiving extra berths in the UEFA Europa League.

As a result, the clubs that have accounted for the fewest red and yellow cards in those respective country's top-flight leagues will be granted a place in the Europa League's opening qualifying round. If those teams have already qualified for places in Europe, then the next team with the fewest amount of cards will be entered into the tournament instead.

Stabaek IF, the team that currently has Americans Ricardo Clark and Sean Cunningham on loan and is the parent club for on-loan Gent midfielder Mix Diskerud, is the beneficiary of Norway's extra slot.


Sought-after Nancy midfielder Bakaye Traore will be joining AC Milan upon the opening of the transfer window, according to reports out of Italy.

Traore, a 27-year-old Mali international, scored five goals in each of the last two seasons at central midfield for the mid-table Ligue 1 side and had been linked to moves to Newcastle and Marseille, among other teams.


Think Kljestan should sign a contract extension with Anderlecht? Do you think he should be called in for the upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers? Think Spector and Birmingham can overturn the deficit to Blackpool? Think Traore's game can translate to Serie A?

Share your thoughts below.

  • NE Matt

    In other USMNT news, the Russian Federation have announced a friendly between the US and Russia for November 14, 2012 at a US location TBD. That’s pretty darn exciting. It should be a good test!


  • Starla

    AC Milan keep signing budget/free transfers. Zlatan demands proper signings of he’s off to Madrid and Mourinho.


  • bryan

    dude i just saw that on DuNord. would be a great game! certainly a tough test for us.


  • NE Matt

    I know, they have some pretty talented guys. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do in EURO 2012 this summer to gauge how good they really are.


  • Old School

    Not a fan of Sacha’s but as an American, happy to see him being productive and finding success.


  • @badwolfdc

    I thought they qualified for Champions League (not Europa)??????????


  • bryan

    so the Chelsea/Milan game in DC (FedEx) is on the 28th of July, which is the same day as ticketmaster is showing DC vs Juve at RFK…

    is that a joke?! or just a complete failure to plan?


  • Starla

    Stabaek ran into financial difficulties and lost all their good players and are dead last. Will be embarrassing.


  • DCUPedro

    They reached the knockout round of Europa in 2011-12, advancing past the Group stages before falling to AZ Alkmaar. This is what SBI is referring to.

    In 2012-13, they take the Belgian champions’ spot in the 3rd round of the Champions League, needing a win to advance to the group stage.


  • timmytwoshoezzz

    Good for Sacha. Belgium is a fabulous country to live in, and I’m sure he’s loving his time there


  • Rich

    They probably will get destroyed but hopefully it will be some added income to help make the club more financially viable. I don’t follow their league at all but have to hope for a club to maintain their financial viability for the sake of the players, especially when there’s a few Americans playing there.


  • RLW2020

    good to hear about Spector, its great to see him back in the CM/CDM role, much better for him. Best of luck to Birmingham back to the prem.


  • Jason

    Ain’t going to happen. Birmingham will lose to Blackpool, then West Ham is going to eat Blackpool’s lunch. COYI.


  • Andrew

    Hadn’t been familiar with Traore before, but does it seem to anyone else like Mali is a whole nation of central midfielders? Almost every Malian player to play for a big club, with the exception of Kanoute, has played the exact same position…


  • luke

    stabaek is absolutely screwed in europa league. won’t go far at all, needs to put 100% focus on not getting relegated


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