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Kljestan scores again for Anderlecht

Kljestan (Getty Images)

Sacha Kljestan's strong 2011-2012 season continues.

The American midfielder tallied his fifth goal of the season Wednesday, opening the scoring in Anderlecht's 2-1 victory over Zulte-Waregem. The win wrapped up the regular season for Anderlecht, which finished atop the Belgium Pro League standings and will take a three-point advantage into the six-team league playoff hexagonal, where the top two finishers qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

When Kljestan headed home Lucas Biglia's corner kick in the seventh minute, he matched his career high for goals in a single season. Kljestan scored five times in the 2008 and 2009 regular seasons while playing for Chivas USA (and he did score another goal in the 2008 MLS playoffs).

What's your take on Kljestan's season? Hope to see him be a part of World Cup qualifying?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Edwin,

    Like I said both Torres and Rogers are peripheral figures.

    I saw those games and your accounts did not seem right to me so I went back and I think your memory is off a bit:

    “Yeah go back and try to watch highlights of our WC 2010 Qualifying game during the Hexagonal the 2nd game after beating Mexico 2-0 in Feb of 09, they played El Salvador in El Salvador late March, we totally sucked, then Bob as usual took forever to make the adjustments and waited till about the 65th-70th minute, but as soon as Torres came in, he changed the game, Jozy also was substituted in as well for Heath Pearce who was burned at Left Back all night. Then guess who went out for Torres? Yup turnover machine when pressured a.k.a Sacha. Beasley went to the Left Back spot and Donovan was basically on the left. Torres was a big part of why we came back otherwise we lose that game”

    I think you have such a rose colored view of Gringo that are confusing him with Frankie Hejduk

    March 28, 2009
    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (March 28, 2009) — Defender Frankie Hejduk scored a header from three yards out in the 88th minute as the U.S. came from two goals down to tie El Salvador 2-2 in a wild match at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador.

    After surrendering goals in the 15th and 72nd minutes, the U.S. rallied when El Salvador was forced to change goalkeepers…. Two minutes after reserve goalkeeper Juan Jose Gomez came on, the U.S. struck for the first time in the 77th minute.

    The setup for the first goal started deep on the left wing, where DaMarcus Beasley played a long ball that Clint Dempsey flicked forward to Brian Ching at the top of the 18-yard box. Ching looked outside and found Hejduk on a trademark overlapping run. Hedjuk was just outside the penalty area when he ripped a cross to the far post, and Jozy Altidore headed it into the net to cut the El Salvador lead to 2-1 with his second career qualifying goal.

    The U.S. continued to press, as they did for much of the final 20 minutes, and leveled the score off a set piece in the 88th minute. ….Beasley played the ensuing corner to the near post, where Gomez came charging out, but defender Marvin Gonzalez cut him off and popped the ball to the far post. The 5 foot 8 inch Hejduk was there and held his ground to head it between a pair of defenders and into the net from three yards out.

    In the second half, the U.S. wasn’t able to muster much of an attack against El Salvador’s bunker, and Bradley began making tactical changes. The first was to bring on Altidore in the 61st minute for Pearce with Beasley now covering defensively on the left in his place. Eleven minutes later, just after Bradley replaced Sacha Kljestan with Jose Francisco Torres, El Salvador exposed the weakened U.S. back line to score their second goal.

    Zelaya worked hard on the right wing to eventually beat Beasley to the end line where he drilled a cross into the middle of the area. Cristian Castillo came crashing to the net and timed his jump better than Hedjuk, out-leaping the U.S. right back six yards from goal and heading the ball down and just past Guzan.

    Match: United States vs. El Salvador
    Date: March 28, 2009
    Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Final Round
    Venue: Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador

    SLV – Eliseo Quintanilla (Osael Romero) 15th minute
    SLV – Cristian Castillo (Rodolfo Zelaya) 72
    USA – Jozy Altidore (Frankie Hejduk) 77
    USA – Frankie Hejduk 88

    USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 14-Danny Califf, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 15-Heath Pearce (9-Jozy Altidore, 61); 16-Sacha Kljestan (6-José Francisco Torres, 72), 12-Michael Bradley (13-Maurice Edu, 95+), 10-Landon Donovan, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Brian Ching, 8-Clint Dempsey
    Subs not used: 1-Marcus Hahnemann, 5-Jay DeMerit, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 17-Jonathan Spector
    Head Coach: Bob Bradley


    “And the home game vs ES was similar we were up after trailing 1-0 but Torres kept helping us push for a 3rd or 4th goal if we had finished chances.”

    Well Gringo came in in the 85th minute and had a nice header on goal but that was about it

    SANDY, Utah (Sept. 5, 2009) — The U.S. Men’s National Team got goals from Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in the closing minutes of the first half to come from behind and defeat El Salvador 2-1 this evening at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

    In the 28th minute, Dempsey and Charlie Davies almost hooked up for the first U.S. goal of the day. Collecting a poor clearance by El Salvador…the U.S. seemed to grow stronger, and after knocking on the door for the last 10 minutes they finally broke through with the tying goal from Dempsey. Castillo was called for a handball on the right side of the field midway in the El Salvador half, providing the U.S. with a free kick. Donovan whipped the ball into the box where Dempsey beat El Salvador’s offside trap and was all alone in front of the goal to hit a diving header perfectly into the bottom left hand corner from just outside the six yard box.

    Refusing to let up, the Americans continued attacking in an attempt to take control of the game going into halftime. After earning two corners that were cleared out by the Salvadoran defense, Donovan again sent in a cross from the left side. The deflection fell to Michael Bradley on the left side, and the midfielder used his body to shield the ball as he dribbled up and down the left side of the goal box, looking for an option.

    He eventually pulled a second defender towards him, leaving Donovan wide open to receive his simple pass and then send in yet another cross. This one was perfectly placed right on the penalty spot, where Altidore leapt up and powered a header into the left side netting for a picture-perfect goal in the second minute of stoppage time.

    Altidore’s sixth goal in the 2010 qualifying cycle – and his second game-winner – moved him into the top spot in the USA’s qualifying scoring list through 15 matches in the campaign.

    In the 72nd minute, Charlie Davies went down with a contusion to his left calf, causing Bradley to make his first substitution of the day. Bringing on midfielder Stuart Holden, Dempsey moved up top to partner with Altidore.

    The final two U.S. substitutions came in the final ten minutes of the match, with Bradley calling upon Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the 80th minute for Feilhaber and Jose Francisco Torres in the 85th for Altidore.

    Match: United States vs. El Salvador
    Date: Sept. 5, 2009
    Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
    Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, Utah

    USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Jonathan Spector, 15-Chad Marshall, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey , 5-Benny Feilhaber (16-Kyle Beckerman, 80), 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies (7-Stuart Holden, 73), 17-Jozy Altidore (14-Jose Francisco Torres, 85)
    Subs not used: 6-Steve Cherundolo, 11-Brian Ching, 13-Robbie Rogers, 18-Brad Guzan

    “Against Costa Rica in last game of the Hexagonal, it was Torres who made a length of the field run to win the ball back from a Costa Rica counter. He slide tackled the guy and then started the run back and created a chance that got us the corner Bornstein scored his last second goal on….”

    You know who took the corner? Robbie Rogers. It seems he had a better game than Torres that day.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 14, 2009) — The U.S. Men’s National Team took care of one last piece of business during its 10th and final game of CONCACAF Qualifying, mounting a furious comeback that finished with just 10 players on the field while earning a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica on a rainy night at RFK Stadium.

    The USA finished the Hexagonal with a total of 20 points, ahead of Mexico (19) and Honduras (16), who finished above Costa Rica (16) on goal differential.

    Jonathan Bornstein scored off a header from a corner kick by Robbie Rogers in the 95th minute to tie the match.

    The USA had fallen behind 2-0 midway through the first half, but launched a fierce comeback that included a 72nd minute goal from Michael Bradley, who finished a rebound of a Landon Donovan shot, and then came Bornstein’s dramatic header with the final seconds ticking away.
    The USA was reduced to 10 men for the last seven minutes of the game, plus five minutes of stoppage time, after defender Oguchi Onyewu went down in the Costa Rican penalty box. As the USA already had used all three of its allowed substitutes, the Americans played a man down the rest of the way.
    U.S. head coach Bob Bradley made three changes to the starting lineup from the side that defeated Honduras 3-2 last Saturday in San Pedro Sula to clinch a berth to South Africa 2010. Bradley called upon veteran Steve Cherundolo at right back, inserted Benny Feilhaber into the center midfield, and gave Jozy Altidore a run at forward alongside Conor Casey, one of the heroes of the USA’s victory in Honduras after scoring twice, his first two career international goals.

    Costa Rica scored twice in a four-minute span to rock the Americans. After the Costa Rican flurry, the USA became the aggressor and, truth be told, the Americans were unfortunate to not score once or even twice before the halftime whistle.
    In the 28th minute Donovan took a free kick from the left side just on the edge of the penalty area, but his spinning service well punched away by Costa Rican goalkeeper Keilor Navas, who did well all evening to get his fists on the frequent U.S. services into the box.
    In the 32nd minute, Donovan had a direct free-kick chance from just about the same distance as his goal against Honduras last Saturday, albeit on the other side of the penalty arc, but he spun his shot over the top.
    In the 37th minute Donovan almost finished off a great solo run, lifting the ball over Costa Rican defender Luis Marin after collecting a flick header from Altidore. Donovan raced into the left side of the penalty box, but fired his left footer from a sharp angle over the bar from 10 yards out.
    In the 42nd minute, Altidore was taken down on left side just above the penalty area. Donovan touched the ball to the right to Bradley, but his low, driven blast was deflected away for a corner kick.

    The USA had two fantastic chances to score in the final two minutes of the first half. The first came when Altidore won the ball on the right wing with a powerful tackle. He played the ball into the middle for Casey, but he let it run to Donovan, who he tried to slot the ball into the lower right corner from just inside the penalty spot. Navas stabbed his left hand to the ground and made a fine save to smother the shot.
    Less than minute later, Donovan burst down left flank and cut a pass back to Altidore in the middle as his defender slipped to the ground. Altidore took a touch to settle, but his powerful shot from 13 yards was batted away by the charging Navas, who closed the distance in an instant.
    In the second half…Bradley made all three of his substitutions in the final 27 minutes, sending on Jose Francisco Torres for Feilhaber in the 63rd minute, Rogers for Holden in the 69th and Kenny Cooper for Casey in the 79th minute.

    The USA finally broke though in the 72nd minute as Rogers crossed from the right wing. The ball was headed up in the air by Bradley and it fell to Donovan in the left side of the penalty area. He wound up on a defender, cut the ball into the middle and then shot quickly from 14 yards out. The low shot was parried by Navas, but Bradley slid to power the rebound into the roof of the net with his right foot from three yards away. It was Bradley’s seventh career international goal and fifth in World Cup qualifying.

    Rogers almost tied the game himself a minute later as he ran onto a through ball in the right side of the penalty box, but couldn’t get enough on the shot to bend it around a closing defender and the goalkeeper, sending it wide right.
    The USA continued to push hard for equalizer, especially down the right flank through the tireless work of Cherundolo and the fresh legs of Rogers, who also sliced a header wide left of the net after a cross from the right back…The USA also had two corner kicks in stoppage time, scoring off the second one, despite Costa Rica implementing its best time-wasting tactics.
    On almost the USA’s last kick of the game, with more than four and half minutes of the announced five minutes of stoppage time gone, Rogers took a corner kick from the right side and Bornstein sliced through the pack of players to power a six-yard header off the base of the right post and into the net to tie the match. The goal was Bornstein’s second career international tally, and first in World Cup qualifying.

    Match: United States vs. Costa Rica
    Date: October 14, 2009
    Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
    Venue: RFK Stadium – Washington, D.C.

    CRC – Bryan Ruiz (Michael Barrantes) 21st minute
    CRC – Bryan Ruiz (Walter Centeno) 24
    USA – Michael Bradley 72
    USA – Jonathan Bornstein (Robbie Rogers) 90+5

    USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 7-Stuart Holden (9-Robbie Rogers, 69), 16-Benny Feilhaber (14-José Francisco Torres, 63) , 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 17-Jozy Altidore, 8-Conor Casey (Kenny Cooper, 79)
    Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 13-Ricardo Clark, 15-Jimmy Conrad, 18-Brad Guzan

  2. I agree with everything you say, except for the part about Dempsey. For one, he plays midfield for his club, so it’s absolutely legit to compare him to other mids. Further, JK literally just said in an interview this week that he would like to eventually have two strikers with Dempsey right behind them. Which is a midfield position.

    in my opinion, though, the US will end up playing something like this during qualifying:

    Jozy, Dempsey
    Johnson, LD, Bradley, Shea
    Chandler, Boca, Gooch, Dolo

  3. I laughed at that too. But to be fair, I thought Lletget actually wasn’t released by his club.

    In any event, I think Mixx is behind Sacha too. And probably even Adu.

  4. exactly. much like williams, sacha isn’t meant for the wing. i don’t think he should start above other CMs, but he should be on the team and would be a good CM sub.

  5. this is why you are not the coach. a player has a sub-par sub performance and you are ready to never call them up again, no matter what. if people like you coached any club or national team, you wouldn’t have enough players to even have a starting XI. they would all be banned.

  6. I’ll concur with idea that Sacha deserves to be in camps, at least, based on club form. Based on MNT form, he’s a bubble player for making the selection or the field.

  7. LOL Lletget didn’t even make the Olympic qualifying roster (and not because he wasn’t released given that he doesn’t ever make the West Ham first team). That places him behind even Michael Stephens, who BARELY plays for the LA Galaxy. What has Lletget done to be considered better than Kljestan?? Just ridiculous…

  8. I was never impressed by Kljestan’s play for the national team but this season with Anderlecht he looks to be a new man. The Belgian league has quality and Anderlecht is a club full of talent. The fact that he keeps his spot and has an impact there is quite impressive and certainly deserves praise and a call up to the USMNT.

    I don’t think he’s a starter for us quite yet – he first needs to prove himself on the national team level. But he definitely deserves a shot.

    Finally, I’d just like to say that people need to stop including Clint Dempsey in their assessments of the US midfield. A few years ago Deuce may have been a midfielder but nowadays he is, without question, A STRIKER.

  9. Klesjtan will score maybe once every nine games but he doesn’t have skill. Torres may never score but he provides skill and possession every game.

  10. Yeah go back and try to watch highlights of our WC 2010 Qualifying game during the Hexagonal the 2nd game after beating Mexico 2-0 in Feb of 09, they played El Salvador in El Salvador late March, we totally sucked, then Bob as usual took forever to make the adjustments and waited till about the 65th-70th minute, but as soon as Torres came in, he changed the game, Jozy also was substituted in as well for Heath Pearce who was burned at Left Back all night. Then guess who went out for Torres? Yup turnover machine when pressured a.k.a Sacha. Beasley went to the Left Back spot and Donovan was basically on the left.

    Torres was a big part of why we came back otherwise we lose that game. And the home game vs ES was similar we were up after trailing 1-0 but Torres kept helping us push for a 3rd or 4th goal if we had finished chances. Against Costa Rica in last game of the Hexagonal, it was Torres who made a length of the field run to win the ball back from a Costa Rica counter. He slide tackled the guy and then started the run back and created a chance that got us the corner Bornstein scored his last second goal on….

    That was in qualifying. Then in SA vs Slovenia he was good, but because RoboBob didn’t prep his team well he had to make changes. but Torres came within inches of scoring, what did Rogers do that summer?

  11. Is he behind holden(injured)? nope. behind torres( recovering injury, not with nats in a while, undersized(? nope. is he behind williams(not that good)? nope Diskerud and lletget? Nope. Adu? Different position and role, but nope. Nice try though, u really do sound lost

  12. The fact remains, when you add it all up with Torres you get a lot of sizzle and no steak, at least so far.

    Rogers at least scored a reasonably inspirational goal.

    In the end both will probably wind up being peripheral figures but time will tell.

  13. Sasha is a decent to good central midfielder, but he’s not a winger. 10 yrs ago he would have been a constant starter for the USMNT…but now he’s behind better or younger players. Jones, Bradley, Holden, Edu, Torres, Williams, Adu, Diskerud, & Lletget. Things are looking up for the USMNT.

  14. Why should he get a call up? He is maybe the 5th or 6th player at his position. Doesn’t mean he is trash b/c he definitely isn’t.

  15. People give him trash for how he played against Italy, but he barely got the chance to show any sort of offensive ability whatsoever…. I think he could definitely be useful in that regard. Moreover, I wouldn’t use him at left midfield. He might be best as a central midfielder or an attacking midfielder in the 4-2-3-1. He had a good game against Jamaica there.

  16. Besides showing his pace off for one goal, Robbie Rogers has been relatively non existant in a US uniform. Torres on the other hand has shown excellent passing skills, ability to change the point of attack, find the throughball to break the defense, and has the ability to hold the ball under pressure. So yea, if that holds no value, then yes, Rogers has done more.

  17. great for him but he should not be called up. Everyone was complaining that they want him to get called up against italy. He finally had his shot and he was forgettable to say the least. Great for him with his club team but the games way 2 fast for him in the national level

  18. Kljestan should fit right into the Belgian League. His scoring rate shows that he has not lost his lustre from when he was in MLS.

  19. In the midfield we have: Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, Jones, Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson (if not at LB), Shea, Torres, and eventually Holden, for at maximum 5 starting positions, so no he shouldn’t make the starting XI.

  20. Buddle/Clark didn’t fail per se. They just went at different times in their career relative to Kljestan. They were pretty much too old to improve substantially, so they weren’t trying to get better, just collect a bigger pay check, which they accomplished.

    It’s also not just an issue of “striving” to improve: I can’t think of too many American MLS players who could to go to Europe but choose not to. It’s hard to get a work permit if you don’t have recent Euro ancestry or already feature for the NT.

    Now, I think Kljestan has done a terrific job of seizing the opportunity he received, and I think he deserves more time with the Nats. But I don’t think many potential Nat players (or even decent pros) are being held back from Europe by fear or lack of desire.

  21. Maybe Sacha is like early Clint: good and growing at the club level, streaky and a little lost for country. Maybe he’ll turn into late Clint: freakin’ rad all the time.

    (The purpose of a Deuce is to flip out and score goals on everyone…)

  22. I am happy that he went to Europe to challenge himself and has played well. He has grown and totally deserves call ups. People can’t be afraid of our players going to Europe and failing anymore, like Buddle or Clark. We are at the point now where we need our NT players to strive to get better and Kljestan is an example of someone who has.

  23. Wait, a league that has a playoff system, no way it can be taken seriously?!

    In all seriousness, while I think the American playoff system used in the NBA, NHL, MLB, etc. is the most entertaining and best determinant of who is the best team, some variation of the Belgian system where teams start out with a certain amount of points based off of regular season performance is probably the most fair to teams that do well during the regular season.

  24. Good for him, I hope he gets another chance with the national team, although his defending was rather questionable in his brief appearance vs Italy…

  25. I remember he got offended a couple of years ago when someone on Twitter (another player, forget who) said he looked like Tim Lincecum. I think he’s wearing it to avoid that comparison. (I remember this only because I’m a SF Giants fan.)

  26. Man, we know our NT has come a long way where we have a player like Kljestan who doesn’t even make the starting XI. In the 90s or even very early 2000s he’d be one of our best players.


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