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Report: Kljestan returns to USMNT for October qualifiers

Sacha Kljestan

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With Michael Bradley unavailable due to his ankle injury, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has reportedly turned to Sacha Kljestan to help provide depth and support in the midfield.

According to a report on Belgian club RSC Anderlecht’s website, Kljestan has been called up to the USMNT for their World Cup qualifying matches against Jamaica in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 11 and at Panama on Oct. 15. U.S. Soccer hasn’t officially confirmed the selection, as they have delayed their roster announcement until Sunday due to injury concerns.

The 28-year-old central midfielder was surprisingly left off the last USMNT roster as the side lost at Costa Rica before defeating Mexico in Columbus last month and qualifying for the World Cup.

This season, Kljestan has started 12 games and scored four goals for Anderlecht, which currently sits in fourth place in the Belgian League standings. Kljestan’s side has also lost their first two UEFA Champions League matches in shutout fashion.

The last time Bradley was missing from the full U.S. squad before his injury came in the USMNT’s match this summer against Belgium. Kljestan started alongside Jermaine Jones as the U.S. succumbed to a talented Belgium side, 4-2, in Cleveland.

If the report is accurate, Kljestan will arrive in Kansas City on Sunday along with the rest of the 23-man squad.


What do you think of this report? Happy to see Kljestan back? Do you see him starting for the USMNT with Bradley out injured?

Share your thoughts below.


    • 2013

      mix diskerud
      – 499 USMNT minutes – 1 goal; 0 assists (sadly dempsey credited with assist v mexico)
      – 1772 club minutes – 2 golas; 1 assist
      – 2271 total mins – 3 goals; 1 assist

      – 134 minutes – 0; 0
      – 907 club mins (13/14 season) – 4 goals; 1 assist
      – 1041 total mins – 4 goals; 1 assist

      kljestan obviously superior to diskerud. who do you like?

      • Your stats comparison is not convincing because it is not an apples to apples comparison.

        You are comparing different teams, different leagues, different sets of players.

        Sacha and Mix aren’t necessarily asked to do the same things.

      • “Almiron’s defensive approach to the game is a far cry from former Club Tijuana manager Antonio Mohamed, and the difference has directly affected Corona’s opportunities for playing time. Just a year ago, Corona was a regular starter on the Xolos title-winning squad, and just a few months ago, he was a key starter in Club Tijuana’s run through Copa Libertadores.

        Corona’s quality is well known in Mexico, which is why, according to Goal sources, there are already clubs in Liga MX ready to make a move for the 23-year-old midfielder if Club Tijuana puts him up for sale. ”

        Current Tijuana coach wants a defensive midfielder, Corona is more offensively-minded. USMNT needs an attacking midfield, in order to offset our mediocre backline.

  1. So…Sasha is Two USMNT Coaches in and…he still has yet to make his presence felt. I never once felt that he was even remotely close to putting pressure on any midfielder ahead of him. Not sure about the “world class” label on anything he possesses however, he is great for stoppage time substitutions.

  2. SK is one of two U.S. players with what I’d call world class first touch. The other is Bradley. That’s it – even Donovan doesn’t, which is why he disappears against good competition when playing in the center. He is great in space and has that flair for making things happen. But in tighter spaces, not so much.

    If you believe the adage that first touch is ninety percent of the game, and the other half is mental, then you ought to believe SK is in our top 11. But, as mentioned below, he doesn’t have the speed to be a winger, which for some odd reason is where JK has primarily played him.

    You can get into counter arguments about how the U.S. doesn’t play a short passing, possession style and so having SK in the spine creates a stylistic mismatch with others in the U.S. pool, other than Bradley. Those two have some passing chemistry, but you can’t play possession when only two of your players have the first touch that allows the necessary speed of play in tight spaces. And Bradley, of course, can play pretty much any style the team needs.

    I’d like to see a line-up with SK at attack center, with Dempsey on the left, Donovan on the right and Bradley and Jones as DMs (and probably Altidore up top). SK’s passing vision feeding those guys would be worth a try.

    • Really confused and not sure what you’re watching. Klesjtan has some of the worst touch on our national team. You can’t compare his touch to Diskerud, Corona, Torres and Donovan. Klesjtan is a hard worker with above average scoring ability for a midfielder but touch and passing in tight spaces isn’t his strong suit. He plays well in games where he comes on in the second half and the opposition is sitting back and defending a lead or against weak opposition where we’ve controlled possession and there’s a lot of time on the ball.

  3. “The 28-year-old central midfielder was surprisingly left off the last USMNT roster”

    What delusional island was the author living on? It was NO surprise he was left off the roster. I would have a much bigger surprise if he had made the roster.

    • schalke with and without jones

      7 games – jones started
      – 1-3-3 (W-T-L)
      – 1 game they won was tied when jones was red carded
      – 11 goals scored / 19 conceded

      4 games – jones did not start
      – 4-0-0
      – 7 goals scored / 0 conceded
      – jones with total of 33 minutes played

      shalke’s defense has been absolutely abysmal with jones in the lineup. and he just was suspended for being so awful

      cameon is not a CM
      diskerud has never played above the atrocious norwegian league
      beckerman is a 32 y/o MLS lifer

      anyone who feels that kljestan does not belong on this team is TRULY delusional. enjoy that

      • You may be right with the stats, but I would say Sasha has not shown his potential with the US. If you look at Mix, yes plays in a crap league like the Norwegian, but although it was just a few mins that he played vs Mexico, he did help to seal the game vs Mex with that pass to LD for the 2nd Goal. That’s the spark you need when you come in to these games and he took advantage and made it happen.Jones & Beckerman, yes Jones can be crap & Beckerman yes an MLS Lifer but it seemed that we were all panicking because Bradley & Cameron were out but they pulled through when they needed too. This is what we need from them, you got to give them credit for that game vs Mexico they did well. As for Sasha I have no doubt he’s a good player & especially stats wise in Belgium he’s been great but the times he’s been with the USA he has not shown that potential. Hopefully he does this time around.

      • kljestan has 1 start under JK

        diskerud already has 4x that amount
        beckerman and edu have 27x as many combined
        danny williams has 11x as many
        torres 14x as many

        people comment on kljestan as if he has actually been given a legitimate opportunity


      • position and role is not written in stone..just a default to a system or that system there can be overlapping, give and go, etc….lots of dynamics, but as a default a player is best in one of three different type of filed positions: defense, midfield, and forward.

      • Kljestan doesn’t have the motor to play on the wing regardless of tactical tweaks to the formation.

        We’ve seen it with him and Torres. They can’t successfully creat when isolated on the wing and they always cut back in and it turns into nonsense. With Diskerud it’s yet to be determined, but I think he might be able to do it because he’s much more technical and pacier.

        If someone says something like Mixx plays in a crap league (even though he’s shown up each time for the Nats, just to try and justify why Kljestan should play, you know your a fan boy. Not to say he doesn’t merit a chance.

        But still. The order for unsolidified CMs is Diskerud, Kljestan, Torres, Williams then Edu

      • Diskerud has had some good moments for the USMNT, but he has also had his share of turn-overs and periods when he demonstrates that he struggles to handle the speed of play demanded by international soccer. When given enough time he has looked impressive, but when he is put under immediate pressure, not so much.

      • +1 I really don’t that Sacha has been given a fair shot to show what he can do. The only start he had was against Belgium and people act like he was the worst player on the pitch in that game when in reality he held his own. And with the exception of the Mexico game Jones has just been in atrocious form for club and county

      • this is true. compared to his teammates he was decent/above average. i looked at “grades” from ives, espn and asn for that game. verdict?
        average grade was 5.2
        – 3 field players had higher average
        – 6 were worse

      • Agree that Kljestan deserve a spot in the team, and yes Diskerud is playing in a not so good league. But saying playing in the Norwegian league isn’t a good thing, well then it isn’t a good thing calling up players from the MLS, because MLS isn’t much better in quality, if it is better at all…. There has been to many good MLS players that has flopped in Norway, like Pat Noonan, Nat Borchers, Ricardo Clark….

      • Thanks for the stats. This reenforces my observation that Jones has mostly had a tough time for the USMNT in his latest games. He did OK in the second half against a dispirited Mexico, but most of his efforts have included give-aways in the defensive third that led to quick transitions for the opponents. He is a strong athlete, but when he tries to do more than he is capable of technically (hit long services or dribble in tight spaces, for example) he looks very average. He needs to adjust his brain so he plays within his capabilities and does not try to do things he is likely to fail at.

      • I’m all for Sacha to be in the side, but one minor point…

        Cameron has played plenty of games at the club level as a CM. He’s not, however, an attacking CM. His best showing for the US in the midfield (also against Panama) was when he had Bradley to take care of most of the offensive duties. Throwing him in the deep end with Jones as a midfield partner (admittedly due to a last-second injury to MB90) didn’t help his rep, but those circumstances were a bit unfortunate.

    • JK was quoted as saying Sacha deserved to be on that last roster and that it was hard leaving him off.

      Apparently you and JK do not see eye to eye on the subject.

  4. The fact is that we have a slew of CM’s from which to choose from….
    # 8 (box-to-box) Central Midfielder. Is the position in which we have the greatest depth within the USMNT. 2 stand out at the top of the depth here…..then a bunch who are about equal
    The # 6 CDM Again a number of players to choose from….
    At the moment only 2 CM’s can really play both the 8 and/or 6 (Bradley & Jones). The rest are good in specific disiplines, but need to be paired up properly.
    Only way Kljestan & Jones works is if Jones is dedicated as the 6….giving Kljestan the freedom of the 8. I just don’t see JK telling Jones to stay home defensively (although I wish he would). Therefore we’re likely to see a Jones & Beckerman or Jones & Cameron pairing, with Kljestan as a sub for Jones….unless Jones isn’t healhty and then we’ll see a Kljestan & Beckerman/Cameron pairing.

  5. not being a Klestjan fan even after his hat-trick game vs Sweidish c-team, I’d say his strong club performance warrant him getting a look. What if Cameron had started at CM versus Belgium? Would he look more like his bad Costa Rica game than good Panama game? and Klestjan started versus Panama at home? How good would he have looked next to Bradley?

    A CM starting in Champions League group stages deserves a shot-if he can’t outperform CONCACAF midfields more than his peers, he can take next summer off, but if he’s as good as Beckerman, Mixx, Jones- he deserve3s a shot at fighting for one of four CM spot for the World Cup

    • To be fair, Klestjan’s performance at the Champions League group stage left much to be desired. His team just got thrashed 0-3 by Olympiakos at home and lost to Benfica 0-2 on the road. Not saying it’s all his fault, but he certainly did not stand out in a positive way. His club is in the last place with zero points and zero goals scored and are yet to play the strongest team in the group, PSG.

      • this is your personal opinion?

        the color commentator for the olympiakos game could not stop complementing kljestan at the end of the game. literally went out of his way 3 or 4 times to say how kljestan was basically the best player on the pitch.

        anderlecht controlled the game from the outset (61% possession, 18-8 shots, 8-1 corners), but ultimately this team is far too young, naive to compete in europe. their finishing and defending is bad

        on wednesday 8 of 11 starters 23 and under:
        – 20 yo gk and 3 23 y/o on back line
        – MF and attack: 20, 19, 19, 16 y/o

        kljestan is a man among boys at this point.

        he was solid v benfica as well.

        were you really watching that closely?

      • ok commentator went out of way multiple times (2-4 times) to single out kljestan and was basically indicating that he was the best on the pitch besides the dude who scored 3 goals obviously… best anderlecht player.

        (all the other stuff is true – should not take much research)

      • this is from

        Anderlecht’s most consistent performer on the night, the American was everywhere, breaking up play before pushing forward and supporting the attack.

        maybe you are just a really poor at making player assessments?

      • If you want to assess the player, you need to watch the game,, not read others’ opinions on Dude, they lost 0-3 at home to a Greek club, which was crushed by PSG the other week. I did not say that he was the worst player or that they lost because of him, I just said he did not get it done at the Champions league level against an average level team. Do you see him getting it done against the world class players at the WC?

      • “If you want to assess a player you need to watch the game not read others’ opinions on a soccer blog…now excuse me while I share my opinion regarding a player on a soccer blog.”

        Pot. Kettle. Black.

      • Tom, there is a difference between fans who watched the game and share their opinions/judgments with each other and fans who simply repeat what they read in a sports publications. No worries, you’ll figure it out one day!

      • this is your personal opinion?

        the color commentator for the olympiakos game could not stop complementing kljestan at the end of the game. literally went out of his way multiple times to say how kljestan was basically the best player on the pitch (besides dude with hat trick).

        anderlecht controlled the game from the outset (61% possession, 18-8 shots, 8-1 corners), but ultimately this team is far too young, naive to compete in europe. their finishing and defending is bad

        on wednesday 8 of 11 starters 23 and under:
        – 20 yo gk and 3 23 y/o on back line
        – MF and attack: 20, 19, 19, 16 y/o

        kljestan is a man among boys at this point.

        he was solid v benfica as well.

        were you really watching that closely?

      • Yes, it is my personal opinion based on what I’ve seen from him. I am not saying he is a bad player, but I haven’t seen anything from him that made me think that he will be one of our key players at the WC. If he proves me wrong, I’ll be happy for him. Putting in a workmanlike performance in a losing effort against an average team is not enough to book him a ticket to Brazil. Is he a difference maker? For me, the answer is no. Do you see him consistently make plays that leave you thinking “what a great player – we are lucky to have him?” As for possession stats, the Greek team was happy to concede possession – their game plan was to counterattack – and they executed it well.

      • Sacha’s perfomances for Anderlecht and the US over the years are enough to convince me he can play for the USMNT.

        There are a number of other USMNT candidates for his minutes.

        The only thing that matters in this debate is whether or not he will be better in 2014 for what the USMNT wants to do than they are.

        I don’t believe it matters how he looked 4,3,2 years ago or whether he had a particularly great or a particularly bad game at one time or another.

      • Anderlechts strikers left a lot to be desired as they just couldn’t convert any of the large number of chances they had. They had a rough start against Benfica but looked much better in the second half. They really controlled the match against Olympiakos but were burned on 3 goals totally against the run of play. I don’t think Olympiakos had a shot on goal they didn’t score. Kljestan even won a PK but Anderlecht failed to convert it. Very frustrating to watch so many missed chances.

      • If Sacha is such crap why is he a regular for them for the last few years?.

        You don’t evaluate a player on one game though that seems to be a popular technique on this site.

      • I agree that you should not judge a player based on one game, but I responded to an argument that he should be invited based on him playing in the Champions league by pointing out that his team had to lopsided losses to two average teams. Sacha is an above average player in the Belgian league, but the question is whether he can compete at a higher level, which is what he is likely to see in the WC if he makes the team.

    • So, that was 4 years ago… very few people reference his meager 4 goal Nat total as reason to see him get a runout; the question is raised by his consistent minutes on a good team in a decent league, the 128 games for Anderlecht (about 20% of which were in continental competitions).

  6. I don’t see why we always have to play Jones. Of course his pedigree. I’d say he’s had more bad games that good ones. Our other CMs seem to have a hell of an easier time playing beside beckerman

    • Your kidding yourself. Jones isnt a pretty player but he is one of the most effective CMs in our pool Mix had a great gold cup then played horrible during the qualifiers. Beckerman recently has gotten better. Torres is hit and miss

      • I think most people like Jones but question if he is always makes the best partner. I think the way he roams around the field limits Bradley going forward often as well. I think always playing Jones really limits the center midfield pool down to Bradley and Beckerman because they’ll allow him to roam.

      • Exactly. Everyone else seems to struggle when alongside him. I think the only other quality person that could possibly play along side him is Diskerud, just because he asserts himself on the match and takes it by the scruff of the neck.

        Kljestan is more passive and always willing to play the correct ball but he won’t go at you like Diskerud. Fergie would say, ” you either have courage or you don’t “.

      • diskerud has played 59 minutes with the big kids this year (non-gold cup). 45 mins “going at people” v bosnia was a complete disaster

        have to admit that 14 minutes against a terrible and desperate-for-a-goal mexico were quite good

        im sold

      • I think you need to go back and re-watch the Bosnia match. May not have been Mixx’s best game, but it was far from a complete disaster.
        Diskerud, like Torres before him, is a player who matches up well against teams who are quick and technical, but not so good against physical opponents.
        European/African Nations can physically dominate Mixx & Jose, but they’ll do well against many of the SA teams.
        In the past the USNT fielded the same players regardless of its opponents….but now we have the depth to pick & choose players in order to get favorable matchups.

  7. Good News. I don’t know if he is good enough to get a ticket to Brazil but I think he is good enough to compete for one. I hope he does well and makes Jurgen’s decisions tougher.

    • I put him at one of the 23 players selected for his versatility…my utility players are: Beasley, E Johnson, and Kljestan at this point.

  8. Kljestan is no DM, Kljestan is more of playmaker type centrel-midfield, Kljestan could play behind of forward to feed him in future friendlies.

  9. I’ve been watching a good amount of Anderlecht matches this season. For Kljestan to do well I think we need have to use some true wing players like Bedoya. I really like the way Kljestan makes quick passes on the ground and spreading the ball wide to spring the wing options forward. However I feel like at this point only Bradley and Beckerman have figured out how to play beside Jones. Mostly by taking a deeper role and letting Jones roam where he wants. I also don’t see Klinsmann not playing Jones so my guess is he goes with Beckerman and Jones again.

      • Yes, better than EDU and Beckerman. He is more dynamic than Edu and Beckerman. He is playing. He is contributing to his club team. More experienced and composed than Mix at this point (Mix has a higher potential). Bradley is broke at the moment. Jones has become a recent turnover machine for club and country.

      • But he won’t due the same job as beckerman. He doesn’t have the grit and won’t get dirty and physical. There has to be a balance to the roster and at the end of the day were taking two DMs.

        If Diskerud, Torres or Kljestan can prove their vital in the starting eleven then Bradley can play a Holding mid role. But even then at a WC you could easily be in a position where you one DM is injured and another suspended. What then? Ask a center back to step in?. Beckerman has a WC ticket at this point, in my opinion. Wether we like it or not.

  10. Sacha has qualities but if he’s ever going to succeed for the US he can’t be expected to play alongside J Jones. It didn’t work last time and it’s not going to improve this time.

    I don’t see why Beckerman and Jones wouldn’t follow up their strong performance against Mexico with another win against Jamaica. The other tact is to be experimental against Jamaica in which case I can see changes.


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