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.

Awards

» 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.

Defensive...application....

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

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:

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