In Defense Of Sacha Kljestan

In Defense Of Sacha Kljestan

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 2, 2009
  • 12 Comments
  • Geoff Reid, Sacha Kljestan
Many wonder if Sacha Kljestan can turn it around this year. (Getty Images)

Many wonder if Sacha Kljestan can turn it around this year. (Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan.com each week. Today he is back with his defense of a guy that has been kicked around quite a bit lately, Chivas USA and US national team midfielder Sacha Kljestan.

I wrote a piece a few months ago defending Bob Bradley because I thought he was getting an unfair rap from some fans. So out of everyone in US Soccer after the eventual success of the Nats in the Confederations Cup, I was most happy for him.

Now I turn my focus to Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan.

It just seemed like yesterday that the California native scored that spectacular hat-trick against a Sweden B team which came just after his trial at Celtic. Since then, his form has dipped tremendously for his club and country. It was only a year ago that he was tearing it up in league play and was voted an MLS all star and was unfortunate not to take part in that mach against West Ham due to the Olympic U-23 side.

Whatís his biggest criticism at the moment? Not being able to complete simple passes on a regular basis. Some folks think heís not good enough for international football which is mind boggling because it was completely the opposite just 12 months ago. When players give away possession easily and make silly mistakes, you know confidence is down, itís a given. We saw that with DaMarcus Beasley recently and his club situation no doubt has contributed to that the most.

It actually reminds me of Bobby Conveyís situation earlier this decade after his failed transfer from DC United to Tottenham. His form dipped for a while before getting back his competitive edge and eventually landed at Reading. I see something similar with Kljestan. Call it a Celtic hangover if you will. After the trial he said all the right things in that he was fully focused on Chivas USA and getting them to MLS Cup in 2009 while playing with the national team. However, he just got done from a successful trial with one of the most famous clubs in world football (although the league is pretty poor) with a fan base more passionate then most. The club makes MLS and the AmeriGoats an offer and essentially turn it down. Nobody can say that wouldn’t have an effect on any of us if weíre in that position. He could still be snapped up this summer although now it looks more unlikely with his performance in South Africa considering and that might not be a bad thing for now.

Kljestanís game has improved greatly under Preki the last two years. If what we read is anything to go by, Preki has focused his time and energy in trying to polish Kljestanís all round game and also Preki could possibly see a little of himself in Sacha. We remember Preki as a talented attacking midfielder who was unpredictable and one of the few American players who could pull a rabbit out of a hat for his club and country when needed. He also had that temperament being a Serbian and can anyone see this in Kljestan?

What is happening with Kljestan right now is he is going through his first challenging stage of his career, all players go through rough patches and their form dips from time to time. A lot of it is down to confidence. A good portion of it can be personal life as well. I donít know him personally so I canít answer that one, but what I do know is heís only human.

I still remain a big Kljestan fan. I think he has the potential to become one of the best US players of his generation. For his sake and for national team and Chivas USA fans I hope he turns around his form the second half of the league season. With the World Cup just around the corner and the US looking to have the most depth in midfield, his position, he could be out of the running to make one of the 23 spots for next summer. Heís in the best environment playing for Preki and a team that suits his style of good, attractive attacking football. Preki will push him, we know that much. One thing we also know for sure is Bob Bradley knows how good he can be, after all it was Bradley who drafted him at Chivas USA in 2006. Itís up to Sacha now.

  • Kaiser

    Nice article, Geoff. I think the Convey comparison is a good one! In both cases the guys lost thier confidence. When Klejstan is playing with confidence his head is up, he is aggressive, and he can be a key component to a team's attack. The key question is how does he get out of this funk and get back? I agree that Preki can help him, but why hasn't it happened already (we are half way into the season)? I believe he is an important player for the national team, both now and in the future. We sure could use him next summer coming off the bench in WC 2010…I see him as a possible late game spark plug or a fill in for some of our card happy midfielders.<br />
    <br />
    I like the &quot;In defense of…&quot; articles. How about a &quot;In defense of Landon Donovan&quot; article that highlights his evolution from &quot;Landycakes&quot; to the dynamic player we saw in South Africa.

  • Kevin

    He definitely has the talent, but can he get back in form?<br />
    <br />
    And as we saw with Bobby Convey, he eventually wound up back in MLS, and his career has been totally underwhelming. So hopefully Sacha can turn out to be a good player, but at this point, I just don't want him playing for the Nats. Maybe after he scores 15 goals for Chivas and leads the league in assists. But until then, I'd rather see him EARN his right to play back. And so far, he hasn't.

  • Kevin

    And Kaiser, I'm not sure LD needs any defense from anyone. His play alone suffices.

  • Kaiser

    @Kevin<br />
    I agree Klejstan needs to earn that spot. However, its important that he does, because we don't have ton of midfield players who can be creative, and before his nose dive, it looked liek he was on the verge of being just that. As for Landon, maybe &quot;in defense of&quot; isn't the best way of putting it, but what I was hoping for was an article that highlighted how he went from a player that was criticized by a lot of fans (Landycakes) to a guy who hustles his ass off and represents his club and country with pride. He's grown a lot.

  • Kaiser

    Nice article, Geoff. I think the Convey comparison is a good one! In both cases the guys lost thier confidence. When Klejstan is playing with confidence his head is up, he is aggressive, and he can be a key component to a team’s attack. The key question is how does he get out of this funk and get back? I agree that Preki can help him, but why hasn’t it happened already (we are half way into the season)? I believe he is an important player for the national team, both now and in the future. We sure could use him next summer coming off the bench in WC 2010…I see him as a possible late game spark plug or a fill in for some of our card happy midfielders.

    I like the “In defense of…” articles. How about a “In defense of Landon Donovan” article that highlights his evolution from “Landycakes” to the dynamic player we saw in South Africa.

  • Kevin

    He definitely has the talent, but can he get back in form?

    And as we saw with Bobby Convey, he eventually wound up back in MLS, and his career has been totally underwhelming. So hopefully Sacha can turn out to be a good player, but at this point, I just don’t want him playing for the Nats. Maybe after he scores 15 goals for Chivas and leads the league in assists. But until then, I’d rather see him EARN his right to play back. And so far, he hasn’t.

  • Kevin

    And Kaiser, I’m not sure LD needs any defense from anyone. His play alone suffices.

  • Kaiser

    @Kevin
    I agree Klejstan needs to earn that spot. However, its important that he does, because we don’t have ton of midfield players who can be creative, and before his nose dive, it looked liek he was on the verge of being just that. As for Landon, maybe “in defense of” isn’t the best way of putting it, but what I was hoping for was an article that highlighted how he went from a player that was criticized by a lot of fans (Landycakes) to a guy who hustles his ass off and represents his club and country with pride. He’s grown a lot.

  • AJ Samples

    Article is spot on. Solid years and decent Nats play earns him a trial @ Celtic…….. the like what they see and make a bid……. in the meantime he drops a hattrick on Sweden and all the sudden his street value skyrocketed and the bid wasn't big enough. If we was smart he would have kept that Nats performance to just one goal. If he had done that, he'd be sporting green and white stripes as we speak.

  • AJ Samples

    Article is spot on. Solid years and decent Nats play earns him a trial @ Celtic…….. the like what they see and make a bid……. in the meantime he drops a hattrick on Sweden and all the sudden his street value skyrocketed and the bid wasn’t big enough.

    If we was smart he would have kept that Nats performance to just one goal. If he had done that, he’d be sporting green and white stripes as we speak.

  • soccer goals

    Great article. He does need to improve his form.

  • Great article. He does need to improve his form.