Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kljes he can!

Few American players have impressed me more than Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has in the past year.

Yeah, I know he’s a pretty darn good player. He would have been a starter for last season’s MLS All-Star game. The only trouble with that was he was busy with the U-23s preparing for the Olympics, where he went on to have a sensational showing in Beijing.

Even so, I suppose I’m guilty of failing to fully appreciate his play out on the left coast, where more than half of his home matches have start times of 11pm three time zones away. Call it an East Coast bias.*

(*Or plain general ignorance. Take your pick.)

But in the past seven months or so, I’ve definitely turned the corner and have come around on the sometimes-mustachioed menace. Thanks a recent string of matches with the National Team, I’ve become better acquainted with his body of work.

And before long, I recognized that he belonged with the Yanks. He looked comfortable and fluid on the international stage.

Yet, comfortable was not how I’d categorize his performance against Sweden. Last night, the Goat went buckwild.

In just under 74 minutes, the former Seton Hall Pirate exploded for his first three international goals against a formidable Swedish side that nearly stuck it to the Yanks in the waning minutes. The last time an American scored his first three international goals in the same match occurred nearly 75 years ago, when Aldo “Buff” Donelli pulled off the hat trick against Mexico in 1934.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. His timing could not have been more impeccable. The attacking mid had just returned Stateside after spending the past week on trial with Celtic, and rumors fluttered that the club is preparing a multi-million dollar offer for the 23-year-old playmaker.

It’s hardly a stretch to say last night’s performance just may have earned him a few extra quid on the transfer market. I wouldn’t be surprised if the star of those adidas commercials was soon teaching kids in Glasgow some dribbling skills before the close of the current transfer window.

Go figure. You finally come to appreciate a guy, and he’s ready to pack his bags to another distant time zone.

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