Kljestan Transferred to Anderlecht
Chivas USA announced today that 24-year-old midfielder Sacha Kljestan, the club’s all-time leader in assists and matches played, has officially transferred to reigning Belgian First Division champion R.S.C. Anderlecht, Belgium’s most successful club. Kljestan, of Huntington Beach, Calif., joined Chivas USA as the club’s first round pick in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft and made 114 regular season appearances for the Red-and-White, scoring 15 goals and notching 33 assists. Per club and league policy, terms of the transfer were not revealed.
“I’m very excited and proud to be joining a club like Anderlecht, and I wouldn’t be there to sign with them today if I hadn’t been for Chivas USA. I’m thankful to everybody at Chivas USA, from the coaching staff, management, all the fans, and teammates over the years that have helped me mold into the player I am today,” said Kljestan. “I’m ready to take this exciting step in my career.”
“Since joining the team, Sacha has established himself as one of Chivas USA’s all-time greats, not just for his accomplishments on the field, but for his dedication to his teammates and coaches, and passion for the club,” said Chivas USA President and CEO Shawn Hunter. “We are thrilled that Sacha will have the opportunity to continue his development on an international stage, and look forward to seeing great things from this special player in the future.”
Selected with Chivas USA’s first pick in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft (No. 5 overall) after three stellar years at Seton Hall University, Kljestan made an immediate impact with the Red-and-White as he helped the team turn its fortunes around after a difficult 2005 season. Playing in all 32 regular-season matches (starting 31), Kljestan finished the season with seven assists and was the runner-up (to teammate Jonathan Bornstein) in MLS Rookie of the Year voting. The playmaker continued his strong play in 2007, scoring four goals and adding 13 assists, tied for second in MLS, and had a breakout season in 2008, earning MLS All-Star and Best XI honors as he scored five goals and had seven assists. In 2009, Kljestan matched his career high with five goals, and also added three assists.
Kljestan has also become a standout on the international stage, having made 24 appearances with the United States National Team. His debut for the U.S. came on June 2, 2007, when he started and had an assist in a 4-1 victory over China. He scored his first three international goals in a stunning performance against Sweden on Jan. 29, 2009, and recently scored a 90th minute game-winner in a 2-1 win over El Salvador on Feb. 21, 2010. He also starred for the United States at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, scoring twice in three games, and later earned Young Male Athlete of the Year honors from U.S. Soccer.
“Chivas USA prides itself on developing young talent,” said Chivas USA Head Coach Martín Vásquez. “Having been here for Sacha’s first two years as a professional, and then coming back this season, it is easy to see that he has made great strides. I am sure he is ready for the next step in his career, and we all wish him the best at Anderlecht.”
During his four and-a-half seasons with Chivas USA, Kljestan played 114 matches and started 111, with 15 goals and 33 assists. His marks for games played and games started are current club records, just ahead of teammate Jonathan Bornstein (111 and 109), and his 33 assists are 11 ahead of second place for the all-time Chivas USA lead. He has played in every Chivas USA playoff game, with a goal and two assists in eight matches, and was Chivas USA’s MVP in 2008.
Founded in 1908, Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht, known commonly as Anderlecht, is Belgium’s most successful club, having won the Belgian First Division a total of 30 times, 17 more than its closest rival, Club Brugge. The Purple & White have also won five continental titles, including the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) in 1983, and both the European Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup in 1976 and 1978. The team is the reigning champion of the Belgian First Division, qualifying it for the 2010-11 edition of the UEFA Champions’ League.
Chivas USA will face FC Dallas on Saturday, June 26, at 7:30 The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Before that, the Red-and-White will play the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, June 12, in the inaugural Sacramento Cup at Raley Field in West Sacramento. Kickoff for the match is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.