A Few Words With Chivas USA Midfielder Sacha Kljestan

I’m heading out to the first-ever L.A. Sol practice shortly and realized I still had an interview with Kljestan recorded last week I had yet to post.

Kljestan is injured and didn’t play Sunday in Chivas USA’s win over the PDL Ventura County Fusion in Santa Clarita. He spoke about his expectations for the upcoming season, the interest shown by Glasgow Celtic in him and the U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier:

Question: Last year was a break-out season for you. What do you need to do for an encore?
Answer: I’ve got to be more of a leader, more of a guy the team can really count on in every game. I think I’ve got to create more for the offense and also have to be a box to box guy that helps out the defense as well. There’s going to be a lot of (World Cup) qualifiers this year and hopefully some big tournaments in the summer as well. My first goal is to win the MLS Cup – something we haven’t ever done.

Q: Offensively, your game took on a new dimension last season. Is there room for improvement there, too?
A: I need to get better around the goal. Five to six goals (a year) is OK, but 10 to 12 is probably a lot better – that would probably help my team win a few more games. You can always work on your first touch, I can always work on my awareness on the field and I think (as far as ) my relationships with the forwards we need to spend more time playing together. Getting some good time with (Maykel) Galindo and Alecko (Eskandarian) and Ante (Razov) when he’s back will really help.

Q: Now that you’ve trained in Scotland with a big club like Glasgow Celtic, are you even more determined to move overseas, perhaps as soon as this summer?
A: If something comes up in the summertime then I have to sit down with my family and look at it. I try not to think about it, really. I tried not to think about the Celtic thing when I was playing with the national team and now that I’m here it’s Chivas USA 100 percent.

Q: Are you concerned about making a big move only to struggle for playing time as DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu have done at Glasgow Rangers? Have you talked to them about their situation?
A: I’ve spoken to them a lot. Maurice and I are a lot closer than Beaz and I, but he’s a pretty cool guy and I’ve been around him a lot on the national team so I talk to him a lot (as well). (Mo) is in a tough situation where he’s not getting minutes right now. I heard they maybe wanted to put him out on loan, but he wanted to stay and fight for minutes at Rangers, which shows his character. Mo is a really smart kid and really driven … It’s just a different style over there and it’s obviously very hard to break into a team when your team is in first place.

For me, personally, I don’t see myself going to a big club. I don’t necessarily want to go to a big club. I want to go to a place where I’m important to the team and I’m helping the team win games, not somewhere where I’m just lost in the shuffle.

Q: How was the Mexico-U.S. World Cup qualifier in Columbus?
A: For my first experience of USA-Mexico I thought I had a pretty good game. Maybe attacking-wise I wasn’t as good as I was in the (January) game against Sweden, but in the role that I played alongside Michael Bradley in the midfield I think I did what Bob asked me to do. I think Michael and ourselves imposed ourselves on the game and I think our midfield really carried the team in the game. So I was proud of the effort everybody brought forward, but I was also proud of myself to get the experience and especially get the win in front of our home fans. It was quite an amazing feeling.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!