Sacha Kljestan is pulling all the right strings for the New York Red Bulls. The 31-year old playmaker is on the verge of a historic season for the club and MLS. Kljestan currently has 19 assists for the year, tied for second best in league history with Landon Donovan. Sacha can best that mark this weekend and eclipse 20 assists in a season for the first time in more than a decade.
Sacha Kljestan On The Verge Of History
The Red Bulls maestro continues to give off a humble confidence in the locker room.
“I’m feeling pretty confident now,” Kljestan said after their 3-2 victory over Columbus Crew SC Sunday. “It’s been a good season for me personally. I think I’ve been able to make a lot of plays in the attacking third that have amounted to big chances and goal scoring opportunities for my teammates, so that’s always important for me in the role that I play. Going forward with the national team, I hope to be in Columbus.”
Upon first arriving in NY, Kljestan found himself thrust into a role he was not familiar with, playmaker. The early returns from his time as a number ten were discouraging. Through the first three months of the season, Kljestan managed just one assist. After taking an early red card in a home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, everything changed. From June 28th, 2015 to the present, Kljestan has an amazing 32 assists (35 in all competitions), and is fourth all-time for the club in a fraction of the games of those above him.
Jesse Marsch has continually raved about his playmaker as the season has progressed. As reported by Jeff Carlisle in August of this year:
“There’s a lot of talk lately about who are the best number tens in the league. Well, I’ll tell you who the best No. 10 is for the way we play, and that’s Sacha,” Marsch said. “None of the other number tens could meet the physical demands of what we ask of them. That includes not just making plays in the attacking part of the field, but delivery on set pieces, understanding tactics, committing to the defensive role, committing to covering ground. He does that more and better than anyone, so his total game for me is at the highest level.”
Kljestan’s form has also seen the midfielder back on the US Men’s National Team. An injury to John Brooks left Jurgen Klinsmann with an open roster spot. Sacha has played at a very high level for the national team since returning. He looks likely to be a fixture for World Cup Qualifying.
Sacha still thinks he has more to offer, and more to give. Each season, he looks to improve on the last.
“I joke that I challenge myself to be a better player after every season I play,” the RBNY attacking midfielder noted. “And I think I’ve done that, and by that logic, by the time I’m 40, I’m going to be the best player in MLS history. I challenge myself to be better in all aspects. When I’m on the ball, I’m a lot more confident, and my game is a lot more consistent.”
It will be hard for the Huntington Beach man to better this season, but Red Bull fans are surely hoping he does. First though, they will be hoping for a victory in MLS Cup.