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Report: Kljestan unhappy at Anderlecht, considering return to MLS

SachaKljestanAnderlecht1-OlympiakosUCL (AP)


Sacha Kljestan could become the latest U.S. Men’s National Team player to return to Major League Soccer.

According to a report in Belgium, Kljestan is no longer happy at Anderlecht, mainly due to only playing six times since the start of 2014. The report states that despite being under contract (he signed a three-year deal in Feb. 2013), Kljestan could leave Anderlecht this summer.

Neither Kljestan nor Anderlecht have commented publicly on this report.

The report speculates that Kljestan could join the LA Galaxy, the rival club of Chivas USA, where Kljestan first made his name in MLS. This seems unlikely however, given that the Galaxy have the maximum three Designated Players under contract and aren’t even close to the top of the allocation order.

If it is true that Kljestan does want to come back to MLS and is not coming on a Designated Player contract, Toronto FC would have the first chance to sign him as they are currently  at the top of the MLS allocation order, followed by the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, per’s allocation order.

Kljestan has fallen out of favor at Anderlecht, which in turn has hurt his chances of making the U.S. World Cup team. As it stands, Kljestan appears to be a long shot to even be invited to the U.S. pre-World Cup training camp at Stanford University starting next week.

What do you think of this report? Do you see Kljestan leaving Anderlecht this summer? Would you like to see Kljestan back in MLS? Think that the Galaxy could find a way to sign him?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Such a strong start to season. Only US player with a Champions league assist and/ or goal this year, 8 league goals on top of that.

  2. He had a good run over there. No shame in being forced out by a youth movement. At this point it doesn’t look likely that he’s going to be an important national team player, so I certainly wouldn’t mind it if he came home and injected an extra bit of class into MLS.

  3. I wouldn’t count LA out. Gonzo may go overseas and Robbie or Landon *may* retire after the season. Even if no one leaves, LA tends to get what they want and will find a way.

  4. Could he be loaned out by Anderlecht with the Belgian club keeping enough of his salary to avoid the DP status (especially if it is only half a year’s salary)? And would a loan avoid the allocation rules?

  5. Great, perhaps then he will disappear back into the depths where he belongs. It’s shameful that he gets continued call ups over a guy like Dax McCarty who is miles above him in his distribution.

  6. “If it is true that Kljestan does want to come back to MLS and is not coming on a Designated Player contract, Toronto FC would have the first chance to sign him as they are currently at the top of the MLS allocation order”

    as we learned with Edu, you can be a DP and still go through allocation.

  7. Dude , is Anderlecht. Grow a pair and fight for a spot.
    If you can’t make it there you don’t deserve to be a soccer player.

  8. I know it’s a pipe dream but I think he’d be the central midfield presence the Quakes are lacking. He’d pair well with Cronin.

  9. I presume Chivas USA no longer have any residual priorities or rights to him should he return to MLS? If he wants to come back to SoCal, perhaps he’d have better luck finding a spot in the roster/payrolll of the new Los Angeles team than the Galaxy. Just a thought. .

  10. OMG… if he comes back, you know he will somehow end up at LA, or Toronto or NYC… one of the clubs that seem to get every returning player and still end up stinking.

    Rules don’t matter… we’ll make new rules

    • You mean like how those clubs got Edu, Dempsey, Goodson, Bocanegra, EJ, Ngyuen, Feilhaber, Davies, Convey, and DeMerit? It’s crazy how all of those returning players made it to those three clubs.

    • When was the last time RBNY got a returning player? And how does LA stink every year when they won MLS cups in 2011 and 2012, lost in the final in 2009 and won Supporters Shields in 2010 and 2011? I’d take stinking like that any time.

  11. If Klejstan played his cards right he would have gotten his dual citizenship like Gooch did when he was in Belgium. Klejstan would have to work permit issues anywhere in Europe….I would consider a Euro league first choice and MLS second.

  12. His brother works for the Galaxy. That’s why he’s linked to the club. As a Galaxy fan, I’d take Kljestan in a heartbeat. Although I agree, he’d fit in well in Portland, with that hipster ‘stache. And he’s still not out of the running for the USMNT – Who else can back up Bradley in an attacking midfield role?

    • Backups for Bradley, in no order: Williams, Edu, Diskerud, Beckerman, Corona, Torres, Kljestache.

      Add Jones if paired with Cameron.

      Obviously any of those can be argued against.

      • Of the players on your list, Jones is the only credible one at least for this World Cup.

        Mikey is now the timekeeper, Reyna’s old role. It is an imperfect comparison but he is the Quarterback.

        Only Jones on your list has the same level of authority to pull that off.

      • I was only listing backups, not replacements; i.e., who goes on the field to play Bradley’s position if Bradley has to come off, not who could replace Bradley and no one would notice. It’s a long list with no obvious standout.

        I will change one thing I wrote though. While I can see Jones taking over the playmaker/CDM role, I said he would need to be paired with Cameron for it to work. This is because someone would have to take over Jones’ physical presence and destroyer role—and that would not be Mix, Sasha, Corona, or Torres, and I seem to remember Jones and Beckerman playing together and it worked like wearing two left shoes. But I shouldn’t have left that role only to Cameron. If Jones were asked to push forward more, then an Edu-Jones pairing could be very effective.

    • Yes he is out of the running. He has squandered every chance he’s ever had and there are so many others that are just flat out better. His coming back is no big deal… there are many in MLS that are just as good as he is

    • He’s out! He’s not squandered his opportunities per se as much as the fact that virtually every other competing player competing for the 23 is better than he is at CM (he is not better than Jones, Edu, Cameron, Beckerman). Diskeruud plays further up-field. No shame in that.

  13. Of the teams at the top of the allocation order, which are most likely to need a player like Kljestache—assuming he doesn’t take a DP slot?

    Toronto FC
    FC Dallas
    D.C. United

  14. Hard to believe but since his American and not European, I guess he would return to MLS but this is just the begginging for transfer rumors all over the world.
    For example, kaka, robinho, ronaldinho didn’t make it to Brazil World Cup, and any MLS team would take one of those three over Sacha
    Kaka to Orlando, robinho to nycfc, ronaldinho to galaxy, and Sacha to timbers 🙂 or San Jose
    By The way, can SBI do a list of players that would come to MLS after World Cup 2014, like Lampard, Sacha, kaka, robinho, casillas, Xavi, etc

  15. I think he should stay in Europe. Maybe try to get a move to a club like Sunderland. A club desperate for midfield help. A move to MLS seems like one where he would fade even further into the background. I’d suspect Kljestan is not on the 30 right now, and move to the MLS would probably foreclose most hope on 2018. If he’s playing well for a mid to bottom table EPL or Ligue 1 club JK would probably be more likely to include Kljestan in USMNT rosters.

  16. I’m curious what happened at Anderlecht… he played a big role at the club the last few seasons, then fell off this spring and can’t even sniff the field it seems. He had a strong chance at going to the World Cup until his disappearance from the lineup.

    He’s a solid player and would be good in MLS… coming back to the league has helped Feilhaber, Edu and many others so we’ll see what happens I suppose.

  17. As much as I love seeing US players succeeding in European leagues, I would be happier to see MLS get stronger by having the country’s best talent. Spain’s recent international dominance comes from their best players playing with and against each other. Same with Germany and the Bundesliga. As our National talent gets deeper, we should keep them home.

      • Sure, and that’s how they can afford to keep the highest level of talent. I just think we underestimate the value of our best players seeing each other day in and day out. How do we expect Altidore and Dempsey to have any chemistry when the play together for 4-5 weeks a year? The American audience for soccer has increased over the years and MLS is generating more revenue. That would only improve if guys like Kljestan, Boyd, Altidore, Johansson, Bedoya, etc. raised the level of play in the league.

      • I don’t think it would necessarily work if they are in the same league (see: England). As you said, Spain and Germany have a lot of players on the same team, that is the key.

      • It can’t be generating that much more revenue. My ST has not increased since 2009 (Red Bulls/South Ward)

      • MLS still can’t compete on salary for non-DP and most all teams have maxed out their DP slots. It doesn’t work economically. Also, the level of play is still much higher in a top 5 or 6 European league, or even the Mexican League. Thus, for still developing players, they are usually better off abroad.

      • Karma,

        “That would only improve if guys like Kljestan, Boyd, Altidore, Johansson, Bedoya, etc. raised the level of play in the league.”

        Those guys are mediocre. I want the next generation of USMNT players to play at a higher level than those guys. I want Tom Brady excellence; those guys are Matt Cassel..

        The Spain/Barca phenomenon is fairly uncommon in the sense that Spain is basically Barca w/o Messi but with some adequately talented replacements. It shows you the strength of the system and the strength in numbers since Argentina with Messi in the same time frame has not been anywhere near as good.

        Spain were basically a Barca/Real hybrid. Many other national teams strive for this but few are as lucky as Spain. Germany has a lot of Bayern and Dortmund players but I don’t think they are as consistently excellent as Spain’s hybrid. The Dutch players tend to all come from similar systems but that advantage is neutralized somewhat by their constant efforts at backstabbing each other. Harkes and Wynalda probably got along better than the Dutch do.

        If all the MLS teams with USMNT guys on it played the same system then your idea makes some sense but otherwise if you want to develop team chemistry the way you seem to be envisioning it, you need to have all the USMNT players on the same team, such as the Galaxy or Chivas USA for example, two teams that need overhauling soon.

        I notice however, that some pretty lethal striking pairs such as Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez don’t play their club ball in the same country and neither do Messi and Aguero

        Japan and Korea don’t keep their best players in their home leagues. Instead they try to get their players on the best teams possible.

        I think the USMNT need to have more of their young talent get exposed to the best possible level of training and competition as possible. And how they respond to that is different for everyone.

    • While I like that the league is getting stronger, those aforementioned teams are not getting better because they are playing with and against each other, but more from the fact that the player development shifted 10-12 years ago (especially in Germany) to focus on more technical, passing players who read the game better. Now it helps that players play with each other more often, but it is FAR more important that there is better player development and they play in a tough league.

      That being said, I think players like Kljestan are the type that MLS should keep (the next level – not uber elite) but they would have to pay them. I read that Sacha is on about EUR800k or maybe USD800k. I would never ask a player to take a pay cut when their earning window is 10-12 years (and I doubt any else really should either). The truly elite players, I maintain, should still be pushing themselves at elite top 5 leagues because they will run into a lot of players their level or greater. In other words, if you are not good enough to be consistently playing for a team in the top 5 leagues and have to go to Scotland, Denmark etc, MLS should pay enough to keep you and improve the quality of its league. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I would love it if the elite players were here

      • You’re exactly right. Technical focus is extraordinarily important and I think our youth leagues are improving because that has been a change we are making here. We aren’t doing enough, but at least we are doing something.

        My point was that it would help to have more of our best talent playing with and against each other, but I certainly wouldn’t want them to avoid leagues that could offer more money or better competition. I’m just glad to see MLS as a viable place for guys like Dempsey, Bradley, Zusi, etc. I think it is fair to say that the better MLS is, the better our National team will be.

      • “Earning period” is a false statement. Players earn money after retiring. It’s not as though they can never work again. They do and can earn much more – if they’re talented or smart about it.

      • Josh D,

        While players can earn money after their playing days, there is greater opportunity to earn money during their playing days. I know people who are involved in sports marketing and athlete management. There is just less opportunity for coaching & commentating/punditry. Additionally, opportunities for advertisement dollars are less than when they are playing. It comes down to the ability to make significant annual income (millions) is much harder to come by.

  18. Not big enough name to be a DP, but if MLS team could get Kjestan for around 400k with performance bonuses without a DP = great deal! MLS really needs to change it’s DP rule, a DP salary should at least 600k.

    • He’s going to LA to take Donovan’s DP slot because Klinsmann hates Donovan so much that he convinced Gulati to pay Garber to threaten Arena that if he didn’t fire Donovan for being forty pounds overweight then Garber would force the Galaxy to become Chivas and send Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane to Seattle on a specially created “certified non-designated player” status that gets paid from revenues from RBNY shirt sales because the Sounders are Garber’s favorite team and Gulati wants Omar to play on turf so his knee will automatically be injured and then Klinsmann will have to play Brooks at CB.

    • If Omar Gonzalez and Ozzie Alonso get DP deals, I think Kljestan probably has the name recognition to merit it.

      • I’m not arguing against Kljestache getting a DP slot, but he can’t be compared to Alonso in this regard. Alonso proved himself to the Sounders—totally endeared himself to them—over several seasons before becoming DP.

    • I apologize to those who have read this before, but I think the MLS would be better off if they gave the teams an option to take one DP off the table and use a pre-determined amount that would be somewhat equivalent to a DP to add to their salary cap numbers. That way, they could get maybe 4 good players at $500k each instead of one DP at $2 million.

      • That’s weird, I think I hear it too. Like a long hush overcoming a crowd… appears that Neymar just passed the ball.

        We’re doomed.

    • Sweet trolling. Seattle used their allocation spot to get Pappa, they are probably near the back. Don’t let facts get in your way though.

      • They also landed Dempsey on a “weird, nobody can explain it in a way that makes sense” way. Don’t let facts get in your way though.

      • @MLSSnot –

        I think they have been over that allocation rule about 1,000 times on this website alone.

        Are you one of the people saying Dempsey was past his prime as well?

        Your Portland is showing… Did you catch your ear guage on something today? Did someone serve you non-fair trade coffee? Did you just find out that TImber Joey’s chainsaw doesnt run on bio-diesel?

        Stand back everyone, he’s having a bad day.

      • I thought it ran on the years of Seattle fans following all their early round MLS playoff exits.

      • I never mentioned Dempsey in my post but clearly you’re bitter. This topic has been discussed numerous times on this site, it’s not worth going over again, clearly some people just will not listen.

      • I think you already know this, but…

        Part 1. Designated Players do not go through allocation—thus, he can go to whichever team he chooses (that also wants him). He only wanted Toronto, Seattle, or LA.

        Part 2. LA signed Omar, so they had their 3 DPs.

        Part 3. According to Grant Wahl, “Toronto (which is working on its own Designated Player deals) accepted that it was better for the league if Dempsey were playing in a U.S. city.” Whatever that means. Anyway, looks like that worked out okay for them.

        Part 4. Dempsey’s transfer fee was higher than any club could pay, so the single-entity league paid it. Seattle is still responsible for all of his salary.

        The only sketchy part of the deal, in my opinion, was Part 4. It makes sense, but it has to be gifted to all the teams in the league—call it the “one-time sugar daddy rule.”

      • KingGoogley explained it well but I’m also not where I mentioned the Dempsey deal at all so not sure how it is relevant to this conversation at all.

      • exactly. And he’s not that much better than Eric Alexander….yes, he’s a better player, but not the level of improvement that is worth making a DP level move for.

        He should go be a DP for one of the lower budget teams in MLS.

      • “Freddy Adu” would be harsh but I think the basic fact is for most teams his value will be less than his cost. The cost will be inflated by Europe but the reality is he was not an incredible MLS player. He does not set up tons of goals or destroy well. He links decent if he doesn’t try for the home run. He is strong technically in space but not really a winger. So he’s not a prototype, he’s a nebulous “box to box” guy who is better as a complimentary guy on a good team….but they might not want to pat top drawer wages for a complimentary linking mid. In that sense I see him as like Adu, not particularly helpful in any stereotypical position but vaguely talented, but also on the expensive side for someone who doesn’t fill a specific need.

      • Being the best player on Chivas is like………….someone can finish this sentence for me.

        Every year he was there they lost in the round of 8 in league, and the round of 16 in USOC. He might even be an all star based on his highlight reel stuff and rep, but will he lead a team to the promised land alone? Chivas suggests not. Leader on a mediocre team, complimentary player for a good one, and he will be asking a lot for the privilege.

      • Silly response, Voice. You’re better than that. Who was the last MLS player to lead a team “to the promised land alone”.? Schelotto? I guess…

        Didn’t think so. Believe it or not, MLS has surpassed the NBA here in some regards (even if we are lagging behind the WNBA in ratings)

      • He was a pretty legit all-star for Chivas. MLS Best XI in 2008 Maybe not a megastar but well above par. His USMNT performances have understandably devalued him in the eyes of many but he could still improve the midfield off all but a few MLS teams.

        MLS might consider bringing him back home to SoCal and attaching him somehow to the Chivas USA/Successor (which the league currently owns). This could be attractive since the roster could be threadbare of talent after Chivas take Torres et al back to MX. While a buyer would likely want to build a new roster, it’s unlikely they could build a whole team in one offseason and this would give them at least a decent core piece in central MF

        Also, it would offer a hint of continuity/ connection to the existing (albeit small) Chivas USA fanbase without any reference to the Chivas brand, which adds some residual value for the new ownership group. Sacha might not sell season tickets most places, but if having him under contract (as opposed to nobody) helps the new owners approach the legacy customers I could see being mildly interesting.
        Sacha was one of the few decent players they ever paid to see in a Chivas USA shirt

      • Over Cahill and McCarty? Not clear where Kljestan would fit. Better player than McCarty, but different role.

  19. His coming back would be another move to improve the quality of MLS. I’m not sure he sells tickets, but he’s a certain starter on most teams. I don’t think it impacts his USMNT chances one way or the other.

    • Playing improves his USMNT chances of course, but its probably too late to change the course for Brazil. If he’s not in the 30 yet, he’s not breaking in based on a club move. If he’s in the 30 then the decisions are made based on the camp. It’s about how much longer he stays an option for the US. I can’t see him sticking out for 2018 though.

      • Brazil is his only chance to go to a WC. By 2018 there will be to many CM’s in the pool who are better than him. The current pool of CM’s will likely keep him out of the 14 cup.
        2014 – Bradley, Jones, Williams, Beckerman, Diskerud, Edu, Torres
        2018 – Bradley, Williams, Diskerud, Trapp, Gil, Canhouse, Powers, Edu, Torres,
        At this rate he’ll likely never play with the National Team again as there are way to many quality players ahead of him in the pecking order for CM, He’s crap at the wide midfield roles, and to top it off he’s had very poor performances in the US Kit.

  20. Why did he fall out of favor? As I recall he was starting every game and scoring goals. Did Anderlecht get a new coach or did his form just fall off?

    • According to Greg Seltzer

      “What has changed? Well, Cheikhou Kouyaté is now sliding into defensive midfield, but there is a much more pronounced reason. And that reason is a 16-year-old Belgium prodigy named Youri Tielemans.”

      • I saw them play in either a CL or Europa League game earlier this season and they were playing a lot of guys under 21. They were practically a youth team and Kljestan was something like 4 years older than any other player on the pitch for them. They are obviously committed to a youth movement. I think Kljestan scored like 5 times in the first 10 or 12 games, so it’s not like he wasn’t contributing.

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