Chivas USA announced this evening that midfielder Sacha Kljestan has left the U.S. Men’s National Team training camp and is en route to Scotland as I write this to train with Glasgow Celtic beginning Saturday.
He’s due back Jan. 22, two days before the U.S. friendly against Sweden at Home Depot Center, but let’s not kid ourselves – this is a trial. And if Manager Gordon Strachan likes the wee lad, Kljestan is gone.
You can see it coming.
Kljestan, 23, had the best year of his young career.
The club ticked off his achievements in its press this evening, observing that he earned “MLS Best XI honors after leading Chivas USA in assists (7) and goals (5, tied) in 22 league matches played, while being named the club’s 2008 MVP and Budweiser Golden Boot Winner. On the international level, Kljestan was named U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year, after representing his country at the Beijing Olympics, where he scored two goals in three matches for the U.S., including a strike against Holland that was voted U.S. Soccer’s ‘Best Goal of 2008’. For the senior U.S. National Team, Kljestan has appeared in 11 matches since his 2007 debut, including four World Cup Qualifiers in 2008.”
Chivas USA is scheduled to open training camp Jan. 28. Frankly, I’d be surprised if he’s there.
Also gone: Panchito Mendoza, who has joined CD Guadalajara (he’s actually been on loan to Chivas USA for the last four years).
“My experience in the U.S. has been important for my growth not just as a professional but also as a person. I hope more Mexican players will consider my example and take a serious look at developing their careers in MLS,” said Mendoza from Guadalajara, where he was today officially presented alongside Chivas de Guadalajara’s newest signings Jared Borgetti and Aarn Galindo.
(Guess we know which MLS team has the inside track on eventually signing Borgetti now).
Good for Panchito, but it’s a move that won’t hurt Chivas USA much. Mendoza was always a little too frenetic for my tastes with a tendency to hold onto the ball far too long.
He played 111 times for Chivas USA, a record for a Mexican-born player in MLS.
“Over the past four years, ‘Panchito’ has come to represent the spirit of Chivas USA . We are happy he now has the chance to return home and join our partner team in Mexico,” said Chivas USA President and CEO Shawn Hunter.
Meanwhile, draft day happenings included Chivas USA picking up Canadian defender Ante Jazic from the Galaxy.
That clears up cap space for the Galaxy and gives Preki another defensive option (so who will be left back – Jazic or Jonathan Bornstein – and what does the move bode for the latter?).
More on Jazic – and other Chivas USA draft day moves comes from the club’s (edited) press release:
Chivas USA made Wake Forest University midfielder Michael Lahoud its first-round pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, while also acquiring veteran defender Ante Jazic from the LA Galaxy, on a busy draft day today that saw four new players join the Red-and-White.
After selecting Lahoud with the ninth pick overall, Chivas USA traded its second-round pick (19th overall) in exchange for Jazic and the Galaxy’s third- and fourth-round picks, taking forward Kyle Christensen from the University of Denver (35th overall), and Jamie Franks of Wake Forest (49th overall) with those selections.
Got that? Who are these players? Here’s the Cliff Notes version:
*Lahoud scored 14 goals in 95 games for Wake Forest, which in 2007 won the NCAA title.
*Jazic, who has 25 caps for Canada, made 41 starts over three years with the Galaxy and also played professionally in Croatia, Austria and Russia.
*Christensen scored 27 goals in 72 games for the University of Denver.
*Wake Forest midfielder Jamie Franks was second on the Deacons in assists his senior year with 11.