Sacha Kljestan is the Zidane of the MLS

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That’s an exaggeration of course, but give me a chance to explain this a bit. And heck, there’s no doubt that Sacha is on the up and up and will leave the MLS soon. He’s the one player who’s from this country who plays with some flair, not an exact impersonation of the legendary Zidane but with a bit of his style let’s say.

Here are 19 of Sacha Kljestan’s assists from 2016.

 

Who’s the next U.S. player to sign with a top European club, it will be Sacha Kljestan. The more and more I watch him play the more I’m impressed. I’m a bit late to the game as far as getting Sacha’s style of play, but part of it is I just haven’t seen him play that much. But with Chivas in the SuperLiga I’ve now seen him play in some big games against big clubs and he’s the one who stands out.

At first glance, Sacha looks like a skinny kid who is perhaps a bit slow, but like a number of good players it’s all about their chance of pace and the good players like you to think they’re slow. They also like to lull you into the thinking you can get the ball from them or read their passes.

Sacha is slippery and silky too, he cuts away from defenders or turns away from them in the middle of the field and then is off to the races. A few times I was thinking he was taking too much of a chance, by turning in the middle of the field with his back to the goal and near his own defensive third, but he mixes it up well, lays the ball off with ease sometimes and then turns when you don’t expect it with a brust of speed. There’s a confidence to his game that I’m sure is now growing, as he’s on the MLS All-Star team and was just named to the Olympic team.

The true breakout for Kljestan could come this summer in China, where he’ll have a big stage to show his skills. Can he pull off his confidence on the ball at the world stage? If he can, then he’s got a lot of money headed his way. He dad won’t even have to think about working again – read this genius story about his Dad coming over to the United States from Yugoslavia.

At Chivas U.S.A. Klestan has developed a know where you’re going to be and know where you want the ball type partnership with Ante Razov. And Razov, with much to do with Sacha, is on a tear these days, putting the ball into the back of the net with aplomb. Just this past week Kljestan to Razov was worth two quality goals, the first a simple layoff to Razov’s left foot, setting him up to lace the ball into the upper corner from deep, and the second a wonderful cross to Razov’s head, where he glanced it cleverly to the far post.

This is purely a reference as to how Kljestan plays, but he has a bit of Zidane in him, the easy-going style. The kind of teasing style where the defender thinks he’s close enough to win the ball but can’t. Kljestan’s first touch is always in a place where the defender can’t touch it, even as they try to read the play. When they try to read the ball they usually overcommit and end up looking the fool. The calm and easy going play from Sacha isn’t necessarily there all the time, he’s just 22 and buzzes about, but in time he might have both, the zip and the swagger from the first whistle to the end.

Watch Sacha score in the video below – a wonderful touch with the inside of his foot and then a smart finish. The goal comes towards the end of the video:

 

Extra: It must be a joy to play for Preki – since he’s so passionate and intense. On the sidelines he always looks like he’s on the verge of an outburst. Preki wants his players to succeed so badly – he still wants to play himself it seems. He misses the game and this makes him push his players to play harder.

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