Archive for the ‘Sacha Kljestan’ Category

Kljestan Hat Trick Powers US To 3-2 Win Over Sweden

January 25, 2009

A Great Win But Come On Folks – Not Even 10,000 Fans In The Stadium?

Sacha Kljestan scored the 11th hat trick ever for the U.S. Men’s National Team Saturday evening to earn a 3-2 victory against Sweden to open their 2009 campaign at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. If any club was on the fence about signing him, last night’s performance should have his agent’s phone burning with calls.

In a fairly tepid first 45 minutes, Kljestan provided the U.S. with a 2-0 lead going into the locker room. His first goal was a stunning 35-yard free kick that he placed perfectly into the upper left corner, before following up that effort by burying a penalty kick with five minutes remaining in the half.

With Sweden pulling a goal back in the 73rd minute, it was Kljestan once again who answered for the U.S., taking a feed from Brian Ching to bury a left-footed shot just one minute later. In the 89th minute, Sweden struck again to make things interesting, but the U.S. was able to kill off any last minute attacks for an equalizer.

The three goals by Kljestan were the first of his career with the full team, and put him in unique company as only the second player ever to open his national team scoring account with a hat trick. The only other player to pull off the feat was Aldo “Buff” Donelli, who tallied four goals in a 4-2 victory against Mexico on May 24, 1934, in the lone qualifying match for the 1934 FIFA World Cup in Italy.

“Getting a hat trick is pretty exciting for me,” said Kljestan. “I’ve never scored more than one goal in a game as a professional, so it’s definitely exciting. I’m just as happy about the win and I’m glad we held on in the end. It was great to do it [score a hat trick] here at the Home Depot Center. I have a lot of friends and family that come and support me every game, so that was pretty cool to have them here.”

The victory kept the U.S. undefeated in eight matches at The HDC (7-0-1) and was the eleventh straight time the U.S. has either tied or won their opening game of the year, with the U.S. also defeating Sweden 1-0 to start the streak in 1998. Overall against Sweden, the U.S. now holds a winning record with four victories and three losses in seven games.

Despite a fairly inexperienced roster, the U.S. was able to control the majority of the match and provide an effective attack, especially in the second half. Of the 18 players on the roster, 13 had less than 10 career caps, and six of the starters chosen by U.S. head coach Bob Bradley had less than 5 caps, including two – goalkeeper Troy Perkins and midfielder Robbie Rogers – who earned their first caps on the night.

The slow and controlled beginning of the match was jarred awake by Kljestan with his stunning free kick in the 17th minute that gave the U.S. the early lead. Ching, the leading U.S. capwinner on the roster (33), was brought down by Marcus Lindberg about 30 yards out and on the free kick Rogers ran over the ball allowing Kljestan to unleash his drive into the upper-left corner of the goal.

The U.S. continued to control most of the possession and doubled their lead near the end of the half with some nice possession play that led to a penalty kick. The ball was knocked out wide right where Ching was able to collect the ball and touch it to John Thorrington along the sideline. With Marvell Wynne involved in the attack, Thorrington slipped the ball through for him and he took one touch to get into the penalty area before getting tripped up by Adam Johansson. Kljestan stepped up to bury the penalty shot to the right of the goal as Dahlin went the opposite direction.

During the first half, the U.S. was able to thwart Sweden’s attack as captain Danny Califf and fellow central defender Michael Parkhurst controlled the backline, while midfielder Ricardo Clark also broke up numerous attacks. Wynne and Jonathan Bornstein were also staunch in their defending on the wings, while also choosing wisely when to dart up the sideline and join in the attack. Overall in the first half, Sweden only had two shots, and just one on goal, which came from Mikael Dahlberg in the 24th minute, a 18-yard effort towards the lower left post that Perkins was able to cover with ease.

Kenny Cooper came on to replace Charlie Davies to start the second half, and the 6-foot-3 forward almost tallied two minutes in when he got his head to a Rogers corner kick. The header got past Dahlin, who had challenged for the service, but Lindberg was able to clear it off the line and over the bar.

Despite controlling much of the play, Sweden pulled one back when Alexander Farnerud supplied a service into the penalty area for Daniel Nannskog, who lost Bornstein at the right post and finished past Perkins with a diving header.

The U.S. was quick to respond a minute later. Once again it was Kljestan getting the accolades with the finish, but the set-up by Ching was what provided the U.S. breathing room once again. Following a long ball from the back from Califf, Ching brought the ball down with an impressive first touch at the top of the penalty area between two defenders which allowed him to turn and then slip the ball to the left for the streaking Kljestan, who slammed his one-timer into the right side netting.

The action continued with Sweden getting another great opportunity a few minutes later, but Dahlberg’s header from six yards out bounced in front of the goal and bounced over the bar.

Sweden did tally their second goal of the night when Farnerud served in another dangerous cross and this time Dahlberg didn’t miss the opportunity, heading it off the right post and into the net.

Cooper had one final chance to give the U.S. another two-goal lead, when he slipped behind the Sweden defense for a breakaway against Dahlin, but his touch around the ‘keeper was too much and Dahlin was able to recover and make the save on his shot from a tight angle.

“It’s important to start the year off with a win,” said Bradley, who opened the calendar year with a victory for the third straight time since taking over in late 2006. “When you’re in a long camp, with three weeks and a lot of work, it’s nice at the end to have the reward of winning. From a coaching standpoint there’s always going to be things, at this time of year, that you feel good about, and there’s always going to be things that need improvement.”

Chris Wingert was the third player to earn his first cap with the MNT on the evening, coming on as a 79th-minute substitute for Bornstein.

The U.S. now looks ahead to their opening match of the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying against archrival Mexico on Feb. 11 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The match, the first of 10 games in the final round – commonly referred to as the ‘hexagonal’ – will kickoff at 7 p.m. ET and fans can watch the match live on ESPN2 HD and Univision, or listen on the Futbol de Primera radio network.

Tickets for the USA-Mexico match go on sale Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 12 p.m. ET.

Match Highlights Here:

U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report

Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Sweden
Date: January 24, 2009
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: The Home Depot Center; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. PT A
Attendance: 9,918 Weather: 59 degrees, mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary:
1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
SWE 0 2 2

USA -Sacha Kljestan 17th minute
USA -Kljestan (PK) 40
SWE – Daniel Nannskog (Alexander Farnerud) 73
USA – Kljestan (Brian Ching) 74
USA – Mikael Dahlberg (Farnerud) 89

Lineups:

USA: 1-Troy Perkins; 12-Marvell Wynne, 2-Danny Califf (capt.), 4-Michael Parkhurst (3-Ugo Ihemelu, 82), 6-Jonathan Bornstein (15-Chris Wingert, 79); 17-John Thorrington (20-Chris Rolfe, 61), 13-Ricardo Clark, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 30-Robbie Rogers (22-Brian Carroll, 69); 10-Charlie Davies (27-Kenny Cooper, 46), 11-Brian Ching (29-Eddie Gaven, 77) Subs not used: 18-Jon Busch Head Coach: Bob Bradley

SWE: 12-Johan Dahlin, 7-Markus Jonsson, 8-Marcus Lindberg, 9-Max von Schlebrügge, 5-Adam Johansson; 10-Andreas Dahl (14-Rasmus Elm, 62), 6-Daniel Andersson (capt.) (13-Martin Ericsson, 71), 20-Gustav Svensson, 16-Samuel Holmén (15-Alexander Farnerud, 62); 11-Mikael Dahlberg, 19-Daniel Nannskog Subs not used: 1-John Alvbåge, 2-Patrik Anttonen, 3-Rasmus Bengtsson, 4-Mattias Bjärsmyr, , 17-Andreas Johannson, 18-Andreas Landgren, 21-Denni Avdic Head Coach: Lars Lagerbäck

Stats Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 13 / 9
Shots on Goal: 6 / 6
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 15 / 15
Offside: 2 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
SWE – Daniel Andersson (caution) 27th minute
USA – Danny Califf (caution) 59 Officials:

Referee: Silviu Petrescu (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Hector Vergara (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Darren Clark (CAN)
Fourth Official: Baldomero Toledo (USA)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Sacha Kjestan

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Onyewu’s Got Game

January 16, 2009

While all the talk about Oguchi Onyewu’s potential transfer to a bigger club in France or England lingers in the air, Gooch is proving that he is not only ready to step into the role on the field but off the field as well. You see, these days the English tabloids aren’t satisfied if a ‘baller has great skills, tactical brilliance, and great speed – you need a top shelf WAG as well.

Now, Gooch’s girlfriend, Persian model Salomé Khorasanchi has made the list of top WAGs in Europe (coming in at number 257) so he is nearly set (and it appears already jumping ahead into modeling). All he needs now is a big fat transfer offer.

Meanwhile, in actual football news, our pal Greg Seltzer has a nice scoop on Sacha Kljestan’s potential new gig.

Also, its heartbreak for Hoffenheim as striker Vedad Ibisevic has suffered a knee injury that will have him out for the rest of the season.

And of course, here is a little something to get you charged up for the weekend…

And don’t forget to support our advertisers by clicking the ad you see above!

Kljestan in Milan – And Playing In The San Siro!

December 22, 2008

Sorry folks but it does not look like Sacha Kljestan is in Milan for talks with either of the city’s two powerhouse clubs, AC and Inter. Instead, he is in Milan to play for the Ambassadors of Peace team in a charity match against the Iraqi national team. Kljestan didn’t show any jet lag and was quite active in midfield during the second half, causing problems for the Iraqi defense.

The event was organized by the group Un Goal Per La Pace (A Goal For Peace) and the proceeds will go to aid the children of Iraq. AC Milan coach Carlo Anceloti’s Ambassadors of Peace team ended up beating the young Iraqi side 2-1.

Now, it remains to be seen if Kljestan takes a detour out to Bergamo for a chat with Atalanta (a side which has been interested in him), or jumps on a plane and heads home for Christmas. Of course, that trip home could always make a stop elsewhere in Europe on the way back…

Sacha Kljestan Closer To A Deal In Europe?

December 21, 2008

Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan has been on the radar of more than a few European clubs since his strong showing at last summer’s Olympic Games. A few Dutch and German clubs have reported interest in the young American along with Moncao, Zenith St Petersburg, and Greek side Piraeus.

Word out of LA this weekend is that Kljestan is about to board a plane headed for Milan. What is not clear is whether he is going for talks with a nearby club, catching a connecting flight to Monaco, or playing in a charity match which could raise his profile even higher on this side of the pond.

If we recall the Courtney Rule that for every known European club interested in a player, there is at least one more quietly working a deal in the shadows, don’t be surprised if Kljestan is drawing more attention south of the Alps.

FINAL FOUR CATEGORY WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR BEST OF US SOCCER AWARDS

December 18, 2008

Courtesy of US Soccer:

CHICAGO (Dec. 17, 2008) – The final four winners of the 2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards were announced on Wednesday on ussoccer.com, with Studio 90 presenting the fan’s choices for Best Performance: Team, Best Goal: Men, Best Goal: Women and Best Photo.

Fans can watch a special presentation of all 12 winners on ussoccer.com’s Studio 90, which has already showcased the first eight award winners, including Best Assist, Best all_access Video, Best Fan Photo, Best Soccer Specialty Store, Best Performance: Player, Best Soccer Bar and Best Soccer Blog.

Watch the Winners Now!
On Thursday, Dec. 18, U.S. Soccer will announce the winners for the 2008 Athlete of the Year Awards, which include Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year. As the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Athlete of the Year Awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women. As in years past, online votes for the annual award were tallied and counted for to 50 percent of the total, while the other 50 percent was compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives, including National Team coaches and members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors.

All four of the final “Best Of” Awards have China as their common thread, and the Beijing Olympics provided some of the most memorable moments of the year for the men’s and women’s national teams.

The award for Best Performance: Team was never going to be a contest, with the U.S. Women’s National Team taking the prize for their gold medal winning effort against Brazil. The 1-0 victory in the championship match earned 52 percent of the vote, far outpacing the MNT’s performances against Argentina and Poland, which finished second (21 percent) and third (8 percent) respectively.

Best Goal: Women came from the same game, with Carli Lloyd’s gold medal winning strike earning the most votes from the fans. Lloyd’s fizzer into the bottom corner earned 31 percent of the vote, while Lori Chalupny’s shot into the top left corner against Japan earned 27 percent. In third place was Becky Edwards’ rocket against Cuba during U-20 CONCACAF qualifying.

Best Photo went to “Jump for Joy,” which captured U.S. players Heather O’Reilly and Natasha Kai in mid celebration after the final whistle against Brazil. The photograph took in 31 percent of the vote, beating Triple Celebration (25 percent) and Cuba Cuatro (16 percent).

The Best Goal on the Men’s side also came from China, with Sacha Kljestan’s strike against the Netherlands getting 28 percent of the fan vote. Kljestan’s well-taken shot finished ahead of two goals from the U.S. MNT’s game against their biggest rival, Mexico. Oguchi Onyewu’s powerful header and Jozy Altidore’s first goal for the full national team both tied for second place with 20 percent of the vote.

Up next in the award season is the results for 2008 Athlete of the Year. The awards for Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year will be announced on ussoccer.com on Thursday, Dec. 18.

2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Results – Performance: Team, Goal: Men, Goal: Women, Photo

Best Performance: Team
1. U.S. WNT vs. Brazil – Aug. 21 52 %
2. U.S. MNT vs. Argentina – June 8 21 %
3. U.S. MNT vs. Poland – March 26 8 %

Best Goal: Women
1. Carli Lloyd vs. Brazil – Aug. 21 31 %
2. Lori Chalupny vs. Japan – Aug. 18 20 %
3. Becky Edwards vs. Cuba – June 20 14 %

Best Goal: Men
1. Sacha Kljestan vs. Netherlands – Aug. 10 28 %
2. Oguchi Onyewu vs. Mexico – Feb. 6 20 %
3. Jozy Altidore vs. Mexico – Feb. 6 20 %

Best Photo
1. Jump for Joy 31 %
2. Triple Celebration 25 %
3. Cuba Cuatro 16 %