- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On July 2, 2009
- 12 Comments
- Geoff Reid, Sacha Kljestan
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.