Posts Tagged ‘Sacha Kljestan’

Ching Shines, Kljestan Strikes: US 2, SLV 1

Brian Ching collected his 43rd cap, 1 goal and 1 assist to lead the USMNT to the win.

The USMNT, featuring nearly all MLS players, notched its first win since early October with a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over El Salvador in Tampa Bay.

Following a familiar script against lesser foes, the US controlled most of the game, struggled in the offensive third, conceded a goal against the run of play and then came to life.

When the US last faced El Salvador in Rio Tinto Stadium in September it was a Jonathan Bornstein miscue that led to a goal by Los Cuscatlecos with the US dominating. Tonight it was Brad Evan’s defensive gaffe that produced the lone Salvadoran goal in one of the few forays into the box for the visiting team.

Though this match could be better called an audition for a few remaining World Cup spots, it was nice to see the US finally finish strong behind second half substitute Brian Ching. The Big Aloha’s head produced the equalizer off a Heath Pearce cross while his feet provided a one-touch assist to Sacha Kljestan who put home the game winner in stoppage time.

The win will play well on Sportcenter (hopefully) and is a good thing for a program coming off three lackluster performances. However, it should be noted that the Salvadorans play made one wonder if they stayed out late last night at the infamous Tampa Ballet. Well that, or maybe they just didn’t care.

Some players added to their resume for selection while others did not.

The more significant story for the USMNT is whose performance got them one step closer to packing their US Soccer duffel for South Africa. Of the 13 World Cup hopefuls Matthew mentioned in the preview

5 boosted their stock…Brian Ching, Robbie Findley, Sacha Kljestan, Clarence Goodson and Heath Pearce

2 held their spot…new Captain Jonathan Bornstein and versatile Robbie Rogers

2 didn’t help or hurt their chances…Kyle Beckerman and Jeff Cunningham

1 took (another) step backwards…Conor Casey

3 never saw the pitch (which probably isn’t a good thing)…Chad Marshall, Troy Perkins and Chris Pontius.

Before jumping to conclusions, it’s worth remembering the level of competition in this match and reading Bob Bradley’s post-match comments about Ching-Casey, the Netherlands roster selection and the World Cup roster.


» Best Play of the Game: The  Sacha Kljestan game-winner. El Sal’s Gonzalez mental mistake combined with Kljestan’s effort led to an odd-man rush by the USMNT. Mr. Victoria’s Secret then laid off a pass to Ching who dropped a nice one-touch back to Klestan for the finish.

One question: Was it me or did Montes (SLV’s keeper) look like he got shot in the back? He started to challenge SK, then dropped to his knees prematurely and fell down. Either way…it was a great give-and-go.

» Most Unheralded Play: Conor Casey struggled on offense playing the first 45 minutes, but his defensive effort kept El Salvador off the scoreboard midway through the first half. The visitors sent a free kick deep into the box that look destined to allude the defense in favor of an on-rushing Custcatleco. Just before the ball dropped at the far post, Casey rose up and used his noggin to get the US out of danger.

» Golden Shinguard: A number of candidates, but TSG is going with The Big Aloha. Ching scored and assisted on the two US goals and was a consistent target for the attack in the second half. Granted he could have been marked better, but that’s not his fault.

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Preview: Not Quite October 10th, But We’ll Take It

Good day and welcome to our USMNT-Honduras preview for this Saturday.

Coach USA congratulating the king before he assumed the throne four days later...

Beyond the visage of Jonathan Bornstein and Conor Casey taking the pitch for the home side Saturday, the match is nearly inverse in all ways to the nervous match that sent the States to the World Cup Finals later this year.

TSG will focus almost exclusively on the USMNT here in this preview as the side that Honduras is bringing is not immediately clear.

What we do know is that the first half should show some high quality competitive soccer, and the 2nd half as substitutions are introduced, might drop a notch in quality, but should be no less competitive.

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Camp Interview: Sacha Kljestan Unexpected

Kljestan: Airborne in practice, down to earth in the interview....

As TSG’s first day of camp drew to a close, Mark and I decided to split up interviews.

With the players fatigued from a two-hour practice in what suddenly became a hazy, sunny day, drinking some gatorade and taking a break was the first thing on their mind, not two guys that looked like twins holding electronics equipment and asking them to give thoughful answers.

Conor Casey was up first and Mark had the research there. Let me add that Mark is just about the same size as Conor Casey…for some reason I think that’s important, like he could actually defend him or something….anyway…

Sacha Kljestan, who I had hoped would be my last interview after some warming up, turned out to be the first.

Much dialogue has occurred on TSG in regards to Kljestan’s enigmatic play and personality. There is, of course, the infamous poll and debates that went on after Kljestan lashed out at refs continually during his last MLS performance of the year.  There was Sacha’s three goals to start off 2009 on the right foot that seemed to stamp him as a perennial contender for a spot in Bob Bradley’s starting midfield…and of course there was the middle of the year where a brooding Kljestan, unable to secure a Celtic contract, disappeared from the headlines and seemingly from the pitch altogether. There was even the Die Hipster Brewing guys asking me to query Kljestan on what he thought of their name; and the cheeky TSG commentators asking about Victoria’s Secret.

It seems Kljestan is a polarizing figure in more ways than one. The talent undeniable; the attitude, the desire and maturity: puzzling.


Would have been nice to get a few softball questions going with just about anyone first, even Jesse the equipment manager, before talking to Kljestan who seemed taller in person. However that was not to be.

What follows is TSG’s post-practice conversation with the Chivas star. Our Flip Video was having difficulty and gave us fits, but we only had a garbley-guck answer on one question–likely, nay definitely, because I had my finger over the mic.

You make the call on Kljestan’s sincerity, but we’ll let you in that it seems, less from perhaps his words, but more from his delivery of them–especially his final two answers–that Kljestan acknowledges his 2009 volatility and that is an awareness he is carrying into 2010. It seems like that will be a very good thing for his club Chivas and country.

I’ve also added a little bit of color on the interview for your……enjoyment.

TSG: Sacha, good practice. How was the New Year’s Eve Party? We heard Charlie was there how’s he doing?

Sacha: Charlie’s doing great. He looks great. He’s up on his feet doing a little touching with the soccer ball.

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So…How Was Your First Day At Camp?

In a word…Scrumtrulescent.

TSG had a fine day at camp with the USMNT in what was the team’s longest practice of the camp so far. Bob Bradley kept the intensity level high as the team went through warm-ups, drills and conditioning before finishing with a scrimmage.

Some observations before we file some longer pieces on our experience later this week. (One quick note: Remember one of our favorite sayings at TSG, “You can’t look at one observation in isolation, you have to look at the whole body of work.”)

  • So, what do the USMNTers drive to practice? Caddy? Escalade? Benz? Charter coach? Nope, US players drive themselves in certified soccer mom-mobiles. That’s right, they pile out of minivans just like they presumably did when they were seven.
  • Two things that stand-out when you are at field level just feet away from players…Size and the pace on their shots. Boombosa is right!
  • Marcus Tracy, Kevin Alston, Robbie Rogers and Chris Pontius were absent for today’s practice. Alston came out and ran laps…so much so that I wondered if it was punishment.
  • Zach Thornton is….MASSIVE.
  • Long-time readers will be happy to know that Matthew’s head did NOT explode when Benny Feilhaber buried one in the back of the net during the scrimmage nor during his interview with the Benny! at the conclusion of practice.
  • Any San Jose Quakes fans out there? An auburn-cleated Brandon McDonald played exclusively at right back today, acquitted himself well and received counsel from Bob Bradley in the center of the pitch post-practice. Beyond losing the ball on a forward run during the 2nd half of scrimmage, TSG came away very impressed with McDonald’s play today who also netted a goal off a corner kick.

Revelry! And USMNT Jan Camp Begins….

Coach Mike Sorber

“Good morning and welcome to your first day of Camp Cupcake.

For those of you that I’ve only spoken with on the phone, I’m Assistant Coach Mike Sorber and I’ll be taking you through some camp pointers this morning then out to the warm-up pitch. Perhaps some of you youngsters caught me on the tube around 1994–I hope you show the same intelligence and cautious temerity that I showed on the pitch during the Cup run….I digress.

Coach Bradley will be joining us shortly. He’s on the horn with Owen Coyles over in the UK

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Do You Want Kljestan Representing?

Okay, we need your participation.


Kljestan: USMNTer? Yes or No?

A lot of banter after last night’s Galaxy game regarding Sacha Kljestan’s expletive-laced tirade at officials. Most of the conversation–both on TSG and from, like we mentioned earlier, Taylor Twellman–is gyrating towards the notion that Kljestan should have gotten a straight red card,  Twellman was all over the behavior of players last night on Twitter and is still at it today. Note, we are inferring that Twellman’s tweeterings are inclusive and perhaps specific to Kljestan because of their timing.

Thank you, Master Kick-Matic

Couple Kjestan’s piece of minded-ness last evening with his national team call-up today, throw in his inconsistent place, his brooding in the earlier part of the year when he didn’t get a transfer, and many fans feel the Chivas star’s trip to Bratislava is underserved. Or do they?

The main issue to remind being his temperament, not play, on the pitch.

So we ask the following question specifically in response to Kljestan’s referee abuse–yes TSG believes it’s abuse–last evening:

Galaxy-Chivas: Hardly a SuperClassico

Update: Post victory for the Galaxy, David Beckham decided not to give it a go for club and country, by removing himself from Fabio Capella’s side for this coming Sunday’s friendly with Brazil. It’s a good move by Beckham and a bigger one than you might surmise as Beckham wants to obviously make the squad, some suggest that he needs to be putting in time at an overseas club and finally because it may threaten his go at the England cap record.


It’s the Herbalifes vs. Sunderland L.A. and I’ve got my bottle of Barbaroja Argentinian Red Ale and I’m ready to go.

TSG finally made it back to the MLS playoffs after watching the inaugural Sounder-Dynamo affair in Emerald City. Kevin, Antonio, start the discussion in the comments and please rip me apart for the “novi” comments.


Two reasons the Galaxy came out on top

A 1-0 grind-it-out win for Donovan and company that saw Los Angeles keep more possession in midfield and play more consistently in the back than Chivas. Does anyone actually call Chivas the Goats? Is that a real nickname?

Here are our observations, rudimentary as they might be, on a game where LA pushed the ball to Beckham to create opportunities and Chicago did not really string anything together more than a few sprinting counters toward the middle/end of the 1st half.


• Thank you, thank you ESPN Soccernet. Nothing interesting on the game in your pre-game columns and then I go to look at the start time of the match and you’re match card says 19:30 EST (7:30 EST). So I tune in and I’m subjected to a pre-game that not only did I not have time for, but that I really didn’t want to see. I walk away thinking the game now starts at 8pm EST–I come back at about 7:50 and it’s 9 minutes in. Disservice.

• Carey Talley, sir. You are a defender. You are a captain. You are from Tennesse, not South America. You don’t have long enough hair. And you probably don’t score.


Let me spell it out Talley: L-O-S-E T-H-E M-A-N-B-A-N-D

Lose the manband!

You’re a captain for chrissakes. After the manband and the yellow card in the first half, I hoped for a better second half for you that allows you to sport that extra non-essential accessory. Not sure you earned it in your team’s finale.

• I’m sorry, I see Bruce Arena and I don’t think, “former USMNT coach” or “former Virgina coach.” I think “Ba-Ba-


TSG presents, "You make the call." Gary Dell'Abate or Bruce Arena?


• I think Jonathan Bornstein *is* going to make it there. “There” being a quality defender. He has the tools and I can see growth in his game. I’d like to see him play with more confidence and, most importantly, lose the silly “non-fundamentals” plays.  Bornstein went to his dominant foot to make a clearance midway through the first half and cleared the ball right into Edson Buddle’s arm (could have been his Buddle’s head and could have been a goal). Great play (and speed) getting back to disrupt the play for Bornstein–but a horrendous decision. C’mon Johnny, be good.

• Sacha Kljestan is just an unbelievably inconsistent player. Laid into a 30-yarder and nearly scored in the first half, but also had worse than a Clint-

San Jose Earthquakes vs Chivas USA

TSG to Kljestan: You have not arrived yet. Quit the antics.

Dempsey-against-El-Salavador giveaway in his own end that led to a good chance for the Galaxy. I expect more from Kljestan. You haven’t “arrived.” So you don’t get to yell at officials and you don’t get to be nonchalant on the field. We need some visionary midfield play on the USMNT, but you’ve got to improve.

And once again, Taylor Twellman agrees with TSG; this time on SK.

• Speaking of Kljestan, Preki had him out wide to start both halves. I’m not sure if he was trying to force Arena and LA to chance tactics when he brings him later in the half, but the Serbian-American is clearly a central midfielder, not a winger. The ploy didn’t work and also robbed Chivas of midfield linking.

• It is easy to see how Beckham’s upbringing and quality create opportunities for Los Angeles. Simple, effective, visionary passes. The ball obviously to Donovan before the penalty was a “maybe four players in the world can see and do that” ball. I love how Beckham uses the threat of his longball to create spacing. I wish I was a young player and could learn from him.

• I saw Omar Gonazlez’s potential, but I saw a lot more of his youth today. He’ll get there too.

• I expected more from Landon tonight. He’s categorically a threat, but don’t try to make the perfect pass or shot, just rip it. What did you see? Still an effective game for Captain America.

• Cuesta,who I criticized last week, is a yellow card waiting to happen for Chivas. The central defender needs to think a bit more before he acts. Reminds me of a Titus Bramble, minus some pounds. (Update: Learned that Cuesta committed the foul for the penalty kick. Be discreet lad!)

• Extremely surprised at the space through the middle of the field and the midfield. More surprised that neither team capitalized.


Preki: What could have been...

• Mike McGee taken off in the 86th minute, about 85 minutes too late. A few simple passes would have unlocked a lot more Landycakes tonight.

• John Harkes, please explain what you meant by this:

• 78th min. Harkes, “Beckham’s coming out. You’ve got think of the next game. He’s got 5 days to get ready and he’s got to play more this season. He’s got to remember that, not Brazil (England nattie friendly).”

• 85th min. Harkes, “Beckham must have been really hurt. I guarantee you he’s only thinking about this game. This is the one that matter.”

Um, yeah.

• “Loved” the fisticuffs at the end of the game. What the h*ll was Preki doing out there? I love when players mix it up after the game knowing full well that nothing is going to happen. Real tough.

• What I (actually) loved more was Donovan being the last one to leave the field and cheering on all the Galaxy fans. Class.

Thanks TSG readers for getting me into the MLS playoffs.


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