From Beijing to Carson with no time wasted
Sacha Kljestan landed at LAX at 6:30 on Thursday evening, having flown in from Beijing.
By 8 o’clock, the U.S. men’s Olympic soccer team midfielder from Huntington Beach was at the Home Depot Center, ready to watch his Major League Soccer side, Chivas USA, play the Galaxy.
“I called Preki [Chivas coach Preki Radosavljevic] once I landed. I told him if he wanted he could put me on the bench and maybe throw me in in the second half,” Kljestan said. “But he said he didn’t want to put me through that, that I’d been through enough.”
Kljestan, who led the American team with two goals as it went 1-1-1 at the Games and narrowly missed out on a place in Saturday’s quarterfinals, was still getting over the disappointment.
“It was tough to swallow right away, but [coach] Peter Nowak told us that we were close, that we weren’t there yet but that he was very proud of the way we played,” he said.
“I was just very proud to be out there on the field with some of my best friends and just to share the Olympic moments was really, truly amazing. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
On Sunday, Kljestan will again set off on his travels. Along with fellow Olympians Brad Guzan, Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu, he has been called up for the U.S. national team’s 2010 World Cup qualifying game on the road against Guatemala on Wednesday.
Edu, meanwhile, did well enough in China to solidify his chances of a move from MLS to Europe. The Toronto FC defender reportedly is close to being acquired by Glasgow Rangers in Scotland for $5 million.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: U.S. soccer player Sacha Kljestan is the picture of dejection after his team's 2-1 elimination loss to Nigeria in the Beijing Olympics. Dele Adeleye, rear, celebrates. Credit: Petr David Josek / Associated Press