It’s a challenge for all soccer clubs when players are called for national team duty. It’s an irritant when they don’t take the field or in the case of Sacha Kljestan gets released due to personal responsibilities. The USMNT played to a 0-0 draw in a friendly against Serbia yesterday afternoon, the first under new head coach Bruce Arena.
Arena played Kljestan for 77 minutes but did not get on the scoresheet. His wife is expecting their second child so he will be unavailable but the suddeness of the move implied it was a pre-game decision. He joins Bradler Wright-Phillips, who is also an expectant father.
Luis Robles, did not mind the nets this day as he saw no action as defense was not the problem in ths match-up.
Jesse Marsch at least liked what he saw from Kljestan, the MLS assist leader.
“I thought overall Sacha was good in the game,” Marsch said, “Didn’t lose many balls, set up a lot of final plays, was a little bit unlucky that one of them didn’t get finished off, but thought he was one of the better players on the team within the game.”
The Red Bulls are not as lucky with the call ups. They will lose defender Kemar Lawrence to Jamaica who plays the next friendly against the USMNT on February 3rd in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Red Bulls started the pre-season well though without the aforementioned players defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0 in Tucson, Arizona. But tbe goals came via an own goal and penalty kick so there is much work to be done here and they can’t get their players back soon enough.