How will Kljestan figure into Anderlecht?
Chivas USA star Sacha Kljestan is setting sail for Europe to join defending Belgian champs Anderlecht, a club not often seen on American television.
Therefore, MLS fans will likely have a few questions about what to expect when the Mauves enter Champions League third round qualifying just over six weeks from now.
WATCH: THE BEST OF KLJESTAN
With that in mind, let's catch you up on the 30-time domestic kings and examine how Kljestan fits into their game plan.
How will Kljestan's style fit into Anderlecht's tactics?
I don't think the phrase "like a glove" is out of place here. The Anderlecht attack likes to get it and go. Manager Ariël Jacobs runs Brussel's finest out in a Dutch-style 4-3-3, slightly altered by custom wrinkles. The wingers and teen phenom striker Romalu Lukaku like to drop very deep to get a running start. The midfield trio usually features no true playmaker. Led by two-way stable ace Lucas Biglia, they are sent out to turn confrontation into transition.
What position is Kljestan most likely to play?
If two-time Belgian Player of the Year Mbark Boussoufa leaves —and the chances are good he will— a place instantly opens at left wing. As Boussoufa likes to cut inside, this station could suit the righty Kljestan. Not to overplay it, but he'd have the freedom to cut onto his stronger foot with options.
Also, if Morocco's version of Brazil attacker Diego sticks around, the American could bid to play as a textbook No. 10. Of course, in this role, he'd need to raise his defensive game a notch or two.
How much playing time can Kljestan expect out of the gate?
It's always difficult to pin down such things before preseason camp opens. Obviously, a Boussoufa sale would open up a ton of minutes in the starting 11.
Suitors such as Aston Villa, Hamburg and Sevilla seem to have big crushes on the winger, and local observers have basically resigned themselves to losing him. But if nobody matches the stiff asking price, early minutes become a trickier proposition.
Barring injuries, Jonathan Legear and Tom de Sutter would eat up minutes opposite Boussoufa. Biglia won't be dislodged and last season's revelation was Senegal Under-20 international Cheikhou Kouyaté.
The line-up wildcard could be veteran Czech Republic midfield muscle Jan Polák, who returned from nine months out with knee troubles by scoring against the US in Hartford a couple weeks ago. It's possible he will need some time to regain heavy-schedule match fitness.
Until Marcin Wasilewski is back from a gruesomely broken leg sometime this fall, Guillaume Gillet will probably continue to fill in at right back.
With Gillet temporarily out of the reckoning, Kljestan would have a fair shot at opening the campaign as the main playmaking option off the bench.
Can Kljestan match the Jupiler League impact of Oguchi Onyewu?
Let's be clear: it would be a mountain-tall task to equal the accomplishment of the former Standard Liège back line marshal. Kljestan could easily celebrate more titles than Onyewu‘s one, but the US star was a league awards vote-getter and wore the captain’s armband.
What Kljestan can do is carve out an Anderlecht tenure with plenty of winning, Champions League and/or Europa league involvement, and exposure to scouts from bigger leagues.
In joining such a strong organization, the attacker can refine his game and maybe even bottle his lightning. And, of course, he'd be an instant National Team call-up as an Anderlecht contributor.
He could do and have all that, in fact, and still not match the footprint of Onyewu in Belgium.