Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan to train with Celtic
Having lost U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the English Premier League in 2008, Chivas USA very well could lose U.S. national team midfielder Sacha Kljestan to the Scottish Premier League in 2009.
Kljestan, who made a solid impression at the Beijing Olympic Games, will train with defending Scottish champion Glasgow Celtic for one week, starting on Saturday. The same club last year was in the running to sign Guzan but lost out to a higher bid from Aston Villa.
Kljestan, 23, has made no secret of his desire to play in Europe, and Chivas USA Coach Preki sounded almost resigned to losing yet another of the stars he has helped develop.
"We don't want to stand in anybody's way," Preki said today. "If Sacha stays with us, that's great. If he makes it to that level, that's great recognition for the club and we wish him all the best. "Right now, we don't know what's going to happen. We'll just wait and see."
Unless the session with Celtic is extended, Kljestan, who has been training with the national team at the Home Depot Center, will be back in time for the U.S. team's season-opening friendly against Sweden in Carson on Jan. 24.
In 2008, Kljestan, from Huntington Beach, was named U.S. Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year -- a cumbersome way of saying he was its best young player. He also scored what was judged U.S. Soccer's goal of the year, against the Netherlands in Beijing, and also was named to the MLS Best 11 as Chivas USA reached the playoffs for the third year in a row.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Sacha Kljestan dribbles the ball on the attack in a game against the San Jose Earthquakes in August of last year. Credit: Victor Decolongon / Getty Images