Sacha Kljestan

Sacha Bryan Kljestan (/ˈsɑːʃə ˈklɛsən/;[1] born September 9, 1985) is an American soccer player who plays as a midfielder for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer and the United States men's national soccer team.

Sacha Kljestan
Kljestan with United States in 2013
Personal information
Full name Sacha Bryan Kljestan
Date of birth (1985-09-09) September 9, 1985
Place of birth Huntington Beach, California, United States
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
LA Galaxy
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2003–2005 Seton Hall Pirates 61 (20)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005 Orange County Blue Star 2 (1)
2006–2010 Chivas USA 114 (15)
2010–2015 Anderlecht 132 (18)
2015–2017 New York Red Bulls 97 (16)
2018–2019 Orlando City 53 (7)
2020– LA Galaxy 0 (0)
National team
2004–2005 United States U20 16 (1)
2007–2008 United States U23 16 (3)
2007–2017 United States 52 (6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of November 21, 2019
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of January 29, 2017

Youth and college

Kljestan was raised in Huntington Beach, California and played for the Region IV Olympic Development Program team. He played three years of college soccer at Seton Hall University in New Jersey under former United States national team coach Manfred Schellscheidt. He was named NCAA Division I First-Team All-America in 2004 and earned third team honors in 2005. Kljestan was named Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 and earned first-team All-Big East in 2004 and 2005. He holds the single-season assists record at Seton Hall with 15 in 2005 and ranks fifth all-time at the school with 28 over a three-year career. Kljestan finished his college career with 20 goals and helped Seton Hall University to three NCAA Tournament appearances.

Club career

Kljestan signed a Generation adidas contract with MLS, and played USL Premier Development League soccer for Orange County Blue Star in 2005. Kljestan was taken fifth overall at the 2006 MLS SuperDraft.

Chivas USA

Kljestan was a finalist for 2006 MLS Rookie of the Year as he appeared in 32 league matches for Chivas and recorded seven assists. He improved his performance in his second year as he recorded four goals and provided 13 assist in 25 matches, helping Chivas to a first-place finish in the Western Conference. He was nominated for the Starting XI in the 2008 MLS All-Star Game, but chose instead to play for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His performance for club and country drew attention from many clubs overseas, and he left the U.S. team's winter training camp in mid-January 2009 to go on trial beginning January 17 at Celtic,[2] the Scottish Premier League reigning champions. After the trial he returned to Chivas and continued his fine form as he made 25 league appearances during the 2009 season and scored 5 goals and provided three assists. He began the 2010 season with Chivas before being transferred to top Belgian side Anderlecht. In his time with Chivas, Klejstan finished with fifteen goals and 33 assists in 114 league matches.


In June 2010, Kljestan signed a four-year contract with 2009–10 Belgian Pro League champions Anderlecht.[3] He made his competitive debut and scored his first goal in the same game on July 27, 2010 in a 3–1 win over Welsh club The New Saints in the third qualifying round of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League.[4] In his first season in Belgium he appeared in 34 matches across all competitions scoring 3 goals and helped Anderlecht capture the 2010 Belgian Super Cup. While at Anderlecht, Kljestan was converted from his traditional number 10 role to a holding midfielder; where he partnered with Argentine Lucas Biglia. Together the two formed a strong partnership which lead Kljestan to his first ever title, winning the Belgian Pro League in 2012. He quickly became a fan favorite as supporters began to call him "Mr. USA" and bring US flags to the stadium to show praise for the team's only American player.[5] The following three seasons he remained a key player as Anderlecht captured three consecutive Belgian Pro League and Belgian Super Cup titles.

In March 2013, Kljestan signed a new three-year contract with Anderlecht.[6] In a Champions League group stage match against Paris Saint-Germain, Kljestan and Zlatan Ibrahimović traded insults, when Ibrahimović made fun of Kljestan's mustache. In response, Kljestan made fun of Ibrahaimović's large nose. Kljestan was ultimately sent off in the later stages of the match.[7] In the final game of the group against Olympiacos; Kljestan became only the fifth American to score in a Champions League match.[8]

During the 2013–14 campaign Kljestan scored a career-high 9 goals as he appeared in 30 matches. Although he had one of his best statistical seasons, he slowly lost his regular spot in the lineup and became a bench player during the final weeks of the season.[9] Kljestan was honored with a pre-match ceremony in his final match with the club on February 1, 2015 against Zulte Waregem. The supporters held up United States flags and banners thanking him for his years with the club.[10] He made a total of 180 appearances for the club, scoring 25 goals, before leaving the club in the winter of 2015.

New York Red Bulls

In January 2015, it was announced that Anderlecht had agreed to transfer Kljestan to New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.[11] He made his debut for New York on March 8, 2015 appearing as a starter in a 1–1 draw at Sporting Kansas City.[12] On April 17, 2015, he scored his first goal for New York in a 2–0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.[13] On July 1, 2015, he helped the Red Bulls advance in the U.S. Open Cup, scoring one goal and assisting on another in a 4–1 victory over local rival New York Cosmos.[14] On August 1, 2015 he scored the opening goal for New York on a penalty kick and assisted on another helping New York to a 3–1 away victory over Philadelphia Union.[15] On October 7, 2015, he scored on another penalty kick to help the Red Bulls to a 2–1 victory over Montreal Impact.[16] On October 25, 2015, he scored the eventual game-winning goal for New York in 2–1 victory over Chicago Fire, helping Red Bulls clinch the 2015 MLS Supporters' Shield.[17] His 14 league assists tied a club record with Thierry Henry and Eduardo Hurtado for the most assists in an MLS season.[18]

On March 19, 2016, Kljestan scored his first goal of the season in helping New York to a 4–3 victory over Houston Dynamo.[19] On April 29, 2016, Kljestan helped New York to a 4–0 victory against FC Dallas scoring one goal and assisting on another.[20] During the third Hudson River Derby match of the season; Kljestan converted a penalty and provided two assists en route to a 4–1 victory.[21] On August 3, Kljestan scored the third goal in a 3–0 victory against Antigua GFC in the Red Bulls' first 2016–17 CONCACAF Champions League group stage match.[22] Kljestan recorded his 15th league assist in a 2–2 draw against D.C. United on August 21; breaking Thierry Henry's record of 14 from the 2014 season.[23] With his 20th assist in the regular season finale, Kljestan joined Carlos Valderrama as the only two players to reach the 20 assist mark in a single MLS season.[24]

On February 15, 2017, he was named as the new captain of the Red Bulls replacing Dax McCarty. On July 19, 2017, Kljestan scored his first league goal of the season and recorded two assists for New York in a 5–1 victory over San Jose Earthquakes.[25]

Orlando City

On January 3, 2018, New York Red Bulls traded Kljestan to Orlando City SC, along with $150,000 of Targeted Allocation Money, in exchange for Carlos Rivas and Tommy Redding.[26] He was suspended for the first two games of the season owing to the confrontation with Jozy Altidore and resultant red card he picked up playing for Red Bulls in the 2017 Eastern Conference Playoff Semi-finals second-leg. He made his Orlando debut in a 2–0 away defeat to New York City FC on March 17. On April 8, Kljestan scored his first goal for the club, a game-tying penalty in a 3–2 win over Portland Timbers. He acted as captain for the majority of his debut season in the absence of Jonathan Spector. Kljestan's contract expired at the end of the 2019 season.[27]

LA Galaxy

On December 11, 2019, Kljestan signed as a free agent for LA Galaxy ahead of their 2020 season.[28]

International career


Kljestan was part of the United States Under-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. He had entered the U-20 program in 2004, earning a total of 16 caps, scoring 1 goal with the team up to 2005.[29] In early 2007, he was called into training camp with the senior U.S. national team, but did not earn a cap in the following games.


He also played for the US Under-23s at the 2008 CONCACAF Men's Pre-Olympic Tournament and scored in a 3–0 win against Canada to send the US Under-23s through to the Olympics. Kljestan was selected to Peter Nowak's roster for the U-23 Olympics in Beijing. He started all three games and finished the tournament as the United States' highest goal scorer with 2, an equalizer against the Netherlands in the 2–2 draw, which was voted goal Best U.S. Men's Soccer goal of 2008, and a penalty against Nigeria in the 2–1 loss that knocked them out of the tournament.

Men's team

Kljestan made his debut for the senior national team under his former club coach Bob Bradley on June 2, 2007, tallying an assist on Benny Feilhaber's winning goal in a 4–1 friendly match victory over China in San Jose. Later that summer Kljestan was a member of the US squad that participated in Copa América 2007. He made regular appearances as a central midfielder and contributed three assists in qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Kljestan scored a hat trick in a 3–2 friendly victory over Sweden on January 24, 2009, his first three goals with the senior team. Although he made the preliminary 30-man squad he was not picked for the final 23-man roster for the 2010 World Cup.

After the hiring of Jürgen Klinsmann as national team manager in 2011, Kljestan was selected less often for the national team despite his consistent play with Anderlecht and the Red Bulls. He was not selected in the US squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In August 2016, Kljestan received his first call-up in over two years for the United States' 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.[30] On September 2, Kljestan appeared as a second-half substitute and provided one goal and two assists in a 6–0 victory over St. Vincent and the Grenadines.[31] In the following match on September 6, Kljestan scored his second goal of the qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago helping the United States win their group and qualify for the Hex.[32]

Personal life

His brother Gordon once played an Open Cup match for the New York Red Bulls and also played for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in USSF Division 2. Kljestan's father Slavko Klještan, a Bosnian Serb from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was a professional player playing for Željezničar Sarajevo.[33]

Kljestan, along with Frank Lampard and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, was featured on the North American cover of FIFA 10.

Kljestan married model Jamie Lee Darley in June 2012.

Career statistics


As of October 6, 2019
Club Season League[n 1] Domestic Cup[n 2] League Cup[n 3] Continental[n 4] Total
League AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
Chivas USA 2006 MLS 320102000350
2007 254102000284
2008 225102120276
2009 255002000275
2010 101000000101
Total 1141530812012716
Anderlecht 2010–11 Belgian First Division 252201061343
2011–12 3640000101465
2012–13 353401091494
2013–14 238101051309
2014–15 131430040214
Total 132181133034418025
New York Red Bulls 2015 MLS 338314000409
2016 326212032399
2017 322513120424
Total 9716103915212122
Orlando City 2018 MLS 30630336
2019 2314200273
Total 537720000609
Career total 3855631820241648872


As of January 29, 2017.
National teamYearAppsGoals
United States

International goals

 # DateVenueOpponentScoreResultCompetition
1 January 24, 2009Home Depot Center, Carson, California, USA Sweden1–03–2Friendly
2 2–0
3 3–1
4 February 24, 2010Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida, USA El Salvador2–12–1
5 September 2, 2016Arnos Vale Stadium, Kingstown, Saint Vincent Saint Vincent and the Grenadines5–06–02018 FIFA World Cup qualification
6 September 6, 2016EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida, USA Trinidad and Tobago1–04–0

  • Goals scored by Kljestan are marked as bold in the "Score" column.



R.S.C. Anderlecht

New York Red Bulls




  1. "Sacha Kljestan".
  2. Jones, Grahame L (January 15, 2009). "Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan to train with Celtic". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  3. "US international Kljestan transfers to RSCA". R.S.C. Anderlecht. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on July 15, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  4. "The New Saints 1–3 Anderlecht". BBC Sport. July 27, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  5. "Breakout Season For Sacha Klejstan".
  6. RSC Anderlecht (March 5, 2013). "Interview Kljestan (FR)" via YouTube.
  7. "Zlatan told me I have a terrible moustache, says Anderlecht player".
  8. "Sacha Kljestan becomes latest American to score in UEFA Champions League".
  9. "Sacha Kljestan's Anderlecht finishes off three-peat, captures Belgian league title".
  10. "Sacha Klejstan gets a legend's farewell from Anderlecht".
  11. "Red Bulls sign US international Kljestan". Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  12. "RBNY earn hard-fought point on the road vs. Sporting Kansas City". Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  13. "MATCH RECAP: New York Red Bulls 2, San Jose Earthquakes 0". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  14. "New York Red Bulls 4, New York Cosmos 1". New York Red Bulls. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  15. "Philadelphia Union 1, New York Red Bulls 3". Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  16. "Red Bulls beat Montreal Impact to close on MLS East title". Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  17. "New York Red Bulls Claim Supporters' Shield With 2–1 Win at Chicago". October 26, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  18. "Sacha Kljestan ties New York Red Bulls' record for single-season league assists". Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  19. "MATCH RECAP: New York Red Bulls 4, Houston Dynamo 3". March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  20. "New York Red Bulls 4, FC Dallas 0: 2016 MLS Match Recap". Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  21. "New York Red Bulls 4, New York City FC 1: 2016 MLS Match Recap". Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  22. "NY Red Bulls 3, Antigua 0". Archived from the original on July 6, 2016.
  23. "Sacha Kljestan (maybe) breaks New York Red Bulls' all-time, single-season league assists record (probably)".
  24. "Reversal: Kljestan awarded extra assist, reaches 20 on season".
  25. "New York Red Bulls 5, San Jose Earthquakes 1 – 2017 MLS Match Recap".
  26. "Orlando City SC Acquires U.S. MNT Midfielder Sacha Kljestan". January 3, 2018.
  27. "Orlando City SC Announces 2019 End-of-Season Roster Decisions". Orlando City SC. November 21, 2019.
  29. "The Official Site of U.S. Soccer – U-20 MNT". Archived from the original on July 6, 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  30. "Klinsmann calls Red Bulls' Sacha Kljestan into US national team camp".
  31. "St Vincent & the Grenadines 0, US 6, 2018 World Cup Qualifying Match Recap".
  32. "Jozy Altidore brace as United States beats Trinidad and Tobago".
  33. Jones, Grahame L. (August 6, 2008). "Chivas USA's Sacha Kljestan looks beyond Olympics". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 12, 2008.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jesse Marsch
Chivas USA captain
Served alongside: Jonathan Bornstein
Succeeded by
Simon Elliott
Preceded by
Dax McCarty
New York Red Bulls captain
Succeeded by
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