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Kljestan, Wynne looking to keep World Cup dreams alive

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TAMPA, Fla.– Sacha Kljestan and Marvell Wynne have been given several chances to impress with the U.S. national team over the past year, but their inability to make the most of those opportunities likely means they will both be playing for their World Cup lives when the U.S. men's national team hosts El Salvador in Tampa on Wednesday.

Kljestan and Wynne are both on the outside looking in as far as the World Cup roster is concerned, but a big match against El Salvador could earn the players a spot in the national team's friendly vs. the Netherlands in Amsterdam on March 3, meaning one more chance to state a case for a place on the U.S. World Cup roster.

"It's huge, because we all want to play in that game against Holland," said Kljestan. "We all know how important that is, especially leading up to the World Cup. All of us here know that a lot of guys from Europe are going to get called in, and there's going to be a few of us from here that are going to go."

Kljestan is trying to regain the form he showed with the national team in the fall of 2008, when he displayed creativity with his passing and put forth a good string of performances in the Olympics and in World Cup qualifiers.

A hat-trick performance against Sweden in a 3-2 friendly win in January 2009 put a stamp on Kljestan's impressive form, but the Chivas USA midfielder has struggled to replicate that ever since, making the friendly against El Salvador that much more important.

For Wynne, the match against the Catrachos provides an equal opportunity at redemption. Wynne looked less than convincing at right back in the Americans' 3-1 defeat to Honduras last month, getting caught out of position several times. But a good rebound game versus El Salvador could earn the Toronto FC player a spot in the friendly against the Netherlands.

Wynne has not had the type of quality performances Kljestan has had for the senior national team, but he has had his moments. Wynne looked promising in the 2008 Olympics, impressing with his world-class speed, ability to get up and down the flank and by proving to be a capable defender. He also played well in the U.S.-Sweden friendly, helping setup Kljestan's second goal when he won the U.S. a penalty kick.

Those type of performances are what Wynne is surely hoping for when he goes up against El Salvador in a game that could determine his World Cup fate.

"Give [head coach Bob Bradley] a hard decision on who to bring to the World Cup," Wynne said on what he wants to do with the El Salvador game. "I really want to be there. I want to show that I can use some of my strengths to the U.S.'s advantage. I can be a presence in the back, I'm comfortable with the line; I just want to come out and play my best game."

Wynne and Kljestan both flew to South Africa for the Confederations Cup last summer, but to return there for the World Cup, the pair of MLS players will need to live up their potential. The last chance to do that could come on Wednesday.

"I want to play in the World Cup more than anything," said Kljestan. "Obviously the game on Wednesday sets the tone for that."


  1. I hate being a big critic, but wynne just has to work on his crosses and being comfortable with the ball, he had a horrible game against honduras

  2. I have to admit I used to believe exactly what you’re saying DS,and then I saw what happened to Oguchi. In the last world cup, he made me so nervous with his indecision and obvious lack of skill. His play in the Confederations Cup shocked me: He was deliberate, skilled, and an overall monster for any striker on the other side. Wynne has sooo much to learn, however, if he does just happen to be a quicker learner than he now appears, he could actually contend in 2014 for the rb spot.
    I can’t believe I just defended Wynne’s call up for this game . . lol. .

  3. You have a point about sasha being able to play all positions. The issue is not his ability to play there…the concern is that he does not play iether slot effectively enough to make a difference in a match, at least he has not in the past 18 or soo months. What happened to beasly not being in form and completely over looked by bob bradley.? What does Bradley do? Sends him back to his club and asks him to come back when he has done something. Same thing with Adu, sends him to purtugal and asks him to show him something. Both those players have recently produced somewhat for their respective clubs and in many other analysts opinion, have earned another look. Wynne and Sasha repeatedly stink up the pitch with their mis-timed runs and sub par decision making abilities. Sasha was left out of a few Nat games in an attempt to get him going at the club level. Well, Sasha’s presence was barely felt with chivas Usa last season. But…he gets another call up. When does the mediocrity and complacency stop with us(
    usa as a footballing nation)? Look up insanity in the dictionary. Bob repeately does the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
    Unfortunately at the expense of our program, Bob will be kicking that same old can down the world cup road all the way to South Africa.

  4. Talk about a tough crowd. Can somebody refresh my memory as to how many legitimate quality opportunities Wynne has gotten? If I remember correctly he shined in the Sweden friendly. Played decent at Olympics. Played horribly in 2 of the most awkward, unmeasurable games I can think of (Costa Rica, Honduras??). Didn’t he also sit the bench in SA last summer?

    I’m not being obnoxious or picking fights, literally asking if maybe I’ve missed something obvious. I can honestly only remember the 2 trainwreck games, which I’ve never put a whole lot of stock in for any of the boys. If I remember correctly Torres arguably suffered a poor game in 1 of those as well (could be wrong). Didn’t hold it against him either.

    I’ve gotta believe, if he’s still hanging around, he may have shown at least something w/ our 1st team in SA?? I know the easy Bradley rebuttals are coming, but seriously can we give an intelligent man (and please don’t question Bradley’s intelligence, he’s a bright individual) at least SOME credit for possibly having a clue? Honestly, if he was so bad at gauging talent I just can’t imagine some 1st teamers wouldn’t have caused a stir, leaked complaints, etc.

    And quite frankly, I think some of you may be understating the value of physical attributes. I’m not saying track stars make soccer players, but let’s please not pretend like some of these qualities don’t matter. They do. How much? Depends on a lot of things. Do they outweigh poor soccer? Of course not. But don’t think it’s not a factor. There’s a reason a player’s effectiveness declines as his physical attributes decline. B/c the physical part matters. If not the reverse would be true. Touch, vision, IQ….all tend to INCREASE w/ age. So if athleticism & physical qualities meant nothing, wouldn’t “prime” years be 35-40 rather than 27?

    Geez, everybody needs to chill out. I like the comment on risk/reward earlier. This applies here & sorry just don’t believe Bradley’s attempts to give Wynne some looks & training is the cause for all problems within US Soccer.

  5. Sasha & Wynne are good soccer players, but not up to par with the USMNT. Maybe in the future these guys will show some light and make their way to the NT, but for now, I say their out of the NT.

    Maybe if Holden continues to be a bench warming player for Bolton maybe one of these guys gets a shot at Holden’s spot. Is not like Holden will see the field for 90min at the W.C anyway.

  6. 5 goals and late heroics at Benfica and still couldn’t get playing time,.. yeah,. i say a change of coaching staff was the problem over at Benfica,.. he was loan out to Monaco and the only game he ever saw for them he performed great, but didn’t see the pitch the next game. I and the rest of the country don’t know what really happend over at Benfica. That’s a fact.

  7. First off, does gil benefit? Obviously he think so! besides actually playing the game against older players, growing as an individual, learning his own strengths and weaknesses in his home country has its benefits and more benefits then saying yeah I was an arseanal youth player, so was Frank Simek and look where it got him. Besides if you want to reason with a moron you should look in the mirror first, you couldn’t name any players except ONE! and the donovan bit is hilarious, I think we can all say he’s had chances he just never had the right team until now. He messed himself up by only trying germany, I don’t think that has anything to do about playing in MLS. And all the guys who aren’t going to get playing time at a big club as you say, are all under 24, thats probably the brightest thing you said captain obvious, but you know who else won’t get much playing time at a bigger club, giovanni dos santos, carlos vela, vladamir weis, the list goes on and on buddy.

  8. I would take Wynne for a late injection of pace to replace defense if we are already down and time is running low. Wynne might give up some easy runs and shank some crosses but his speed, especially against tired legs, will at least threaten and stretch the other team wide. He can also run into the box and take a foul.

    Kljestan though, just isn’t cutting it. He began with promise and then just seemed to stagnate. Although he can be creative and is active, his vision and passing touch haven’t improved. I’d put him at 5th or 6th in the CMF pecking order (Bradley, Torres, Feilhaber, Clark, Edu ahead of him) and probably lower than that as a SMF (Donovan, Holden, Beasley, Dempsey, Adu, Rogers ahead of him). In all that I just don’t see room for him and if he sees the field, or even the bench, in a competitive international it definitely isn’t going to be a good thing for the US.

  9. for the 23? Cameron appears to be a very interesting prospect with good defensive skills and physical presence right? and versatility? will BB give him a shot? I sure hope so! If I could pick the 23 I would at least be giving him some minutes. but what do I know …

  10. Ives,

    I think the Nats must add one more game before they head to South Africa. They must play a game against an African nation. What do you think? Who would the possibilities be? Is there time (to schedule and play) before liftoff for South Africa? It seems a game in Africa would be out, … so the game would have to be in the US right?


    Not Ives

  11. “Varied degree of success” was my way of being diplomatic to Sasha. At the end of the day, he has played all four midfield spots through this qualifying cycle. That versatility may offer more to the coaching staff than players who only play one position (Edu) or have no defined position (Adu.)

    Not that Sasha is more skilled, but can you put Edu at wing, and expect something from him, or put Freddy as a holding mid, and expect production from him?

    The last couple of guys on the team HAVE to be able to play multiple positions. Think Mastroeni in ’02, or Hejduk (before he got hurt) in ’06.

  12. You make a good point. I think, though that the versatility of our defenders will allow us to bring more of our deepest position, midfield.

    Having Bocanegra and Bornstein BOTH play CB and LB, and Spector having played a little at CB, may go a long way when the final roster decisions are made.

  13. Yes. I’m serious. If you’ve watched US Soccer since the early 2000’s, Frankie will be in the mix. He’s played when he had to in qualifying, sometimes looking good (at El Salvador), sometimes not.

    “just older and slower.”

    Really? Package this statement up, so you can look at it in May, when camp opens, and Frankie wipes the floor with EVERYONE in the speed and agility drills just like he did in 2006.

    Frankie has a TON of limitations, but speed and quickness aren’t on the list. He knows the system, and knows how to compensate for his limitations.

    More importantly, the coaching staff knows him well enough to compensate for his weaknesses.

  14. Wynne is certainly a contradiction in terms. He is extremely athletic and clumsy at the same time. You mostly get to see his athleticism because of the mental and physical mistakes he makes. He is 23 years old….played 2 years at college, played high school, presumably a bunch of club football, at what point would you expect his touch and mental understanding to develop? Seems like he would already have it….but then again….Does LD not seem like a much improved player over a couple of years ago? Maybe Wynne is a 2014 project. I know one thing for sure that you cannot teach and that is 10.39 in the 100 meters.

  15. Wynne’s lack of technical ability is a bit mind boggling, considering that technical ability can be improved and it’s the only thing standing between him and millions of dollars.

  16. “Kljestan and Wynne are both on the outside looking in…”

    There should be a place ‘outside’ far away, where you can’t get back in.

  17. consistency consistency consistency

    true dat!

    That is kljestan’s greatest weakness, and why he shouldn’t go even with 1 great game against el salvador.

  18. : )

    its a tough crowd.

    One wonders if those quotes were directed to SBI, in which if they were, good chance they are reading it right now.

    I hope they prove us all wrong and stomp the sh!t out of El Salvador. Cheers boys!

  19. I hate to be such a critical judge against my own USMNT, but I have to agree. This is a world cup squad we are talking about, no fluff.

    I’ll have to agree.

  20. Best of luck to Wynne and Sasha to have great games like they talked about tomorrow. I hope they play well and do make it hard on coach bradley when he decides we are strong enough that he doesn’t need them. That only makes our team stronger.

  21. And exactly what respect is Luis Gil gonna get by playing in MLS?

    It took Landon this long for him to get his fair shot in Europe.

    Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies, and every other USMNT players in Europe other than Tim Howard is not going to get much playing time if they move to a bigger club.

    Then there are countless US players headed to second and third tiers of European clubs and they fail, and eventually return to MLS.

    Who cares if Arsenal ever wins again. That’s not the issue here. They have a world class academy where they buy young players and develop them into technically gifted players.

    Just because Arsenal is not winning right now with their youth policy, it doesn’t mean that their young players are not wanted. Fran Merida is tied to a free transfer war with Atletico Madrid and Arsenal. Other premier clubs constantly go to Arsenal about possibility about loaning out their youth players. No team in the EPL utilizes their youth/reserve system better than Arsenal. There is no dispute that kids out of their youth academy are talented footballers.

    Do you really think Luis Gil 3 years from now is better off as a football player by staying in MLS than spending the next 3 years in the youth system of a club like Arsenal? I am done reasoning with a moron who argues otherwise because “those skills that allow them to be 4th every year, get beat down like a boy band when they play the big boys ”

    At least those skills allow them to stay in 4th in EPL every year and enter the knockout stages of the Champions League. Where the hell do you think a team made of MLS players are gonna finish in EPL?

  22. Yeah I’d agree. I’d put the depth chart like this:


    then Wynne. I’d be willing to bet Alston is even better than him.

  23. STAR MLS players, name one? that Kenny Cooper? Far from a star, and Chris Rolfe, I like him but he’s far from a Star as well. Name me the top 10 arsenal products out of their academy in the last five years? Thats right, you can only name two. Everyone else they bought, so don’t spout this whole world class training, if it was so world class the british press wouldn’t be worried about all the foreginers they are impoting and instead they would be excited about all the youth they are bringing in, funny how we don’t hear about that. And REAL? Really? you think anyone from their academy will ever see the playing field for that first team? Charlie Davies went from BC to scandanavia but it wasn’t until the confederations cup that teams from Larger leagues to a liking to him, Jozy altidore went from NY to Villareal, Tim Howard to Manchester United, Clint Dempsey to Fulham. Arsenal is a joke, they will buy more players before they ever win anything again.


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