Kljestan confident he holds an edge at camp
PRINCETON, N.J. – With players like Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey ahead of him in the pecking order, Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan is realistic about where he fits into the midfield picture of the United States World Cup squad.
In his fifth MLS season, Kljestan is well aware of the single characteristic that gives him the best chance at winning a ticket among the final 23. He spoke to media for the first time on Wednesday since joining the camp here.
“I think I bring versatility to the team, something that not all the midfielders on the squad do, and hopefully that helps my chances with the team,” he said after the third day training.
If there’s anyone who knows Kljestan, it’s US head coach Bob Bradley, who selected him fifth overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. The California native also played collegiate soccer at Seton Hall for Manny Schellscheidt, who is a good friend of Bradley’s and was present at practice on Wednesday.
All of Kljestan's 23 international caps have come during Bradley's tenure. The 24-year-old believes that Bradley knows how best to take advantage of the single biggest asset he offers to the American squad.
“He has used me in certain games as a left midfielder and in certain games a right midfielder,” Kljestan said. “In other games I’ve been a defensive midfielder and sometimes one of the two-way guys who gets into the attack more.”
Kljestan can be expected to feature in next week’s exhibition against the Czech Republic in East Hartford, Conn., where he can put that versatility to the test and earn himself a place on the final roster.
He is one of only 13 players to register eight or more appearances in 2010 World Cup qualifying for the US. But after a shaky start with Chivas USA in the current MLS campaign and some lackluster USMNT performances in recent matches, Kljestan is no lock.
“I don’t feel pressure,” Kljestan said. “I feel this is my dream. This is what I was born to do.”