New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan admits his recall to the U.S. National Men’s Team feels like a “second chance”.
Kljestan, 31, made his debut nine years ago for the US, but has appeared just four times for his country since the beginning of 2014.
However, his form for New York Red Bulls – which sees him currently leading the assists charts in MLS with 17 – has been rewarded with a recall by Jurgen Klinsmann and played 90 minutes during the 1-1 draw with New Zealand on Tuesday.
“I feel like this is a second chance at a national-team career and I have a lot more determination now and a lot more motivation,” said Kljestan.
“Obviously I missed a couple of World Cups, so now I’m going to push my hardest to do everything I can.”
Kljestan earned his 50th cap during the draw and has now appeared in four consecutive games for the US team and is hoping to be selected for the upcoming crunch World Cup qualifier with Mexico.
When asked if Kljestan had a chance of appearing in the match, manager Jurgen Klinsmann – who could be without both Clint Dempsey and Alejandro Bedoya – confirmed the former Anderlecht midfielder could be involved.
“He’s absolutely under consideration for Mexico,” Klinsmann said. “He took this opportunity just the perfect way. He was hungry for that moment, and he knew that he has to come in here and make a difference.
“He was very, very mobile. He kept things going until the very last second when a couple opportunities came. It’s really nice to watch how he came back into this group.”
Now heading towards the twilight stages of his career, Kljestan admits he took playing for the US for granted at a younger age and is now aiming to pass on his experience to the younger players in the squad.
“I think when I was a young player, I didn’t fully realize the importance or the magnitude of playing for the national team, and now I do,” added Kljestan.
“Now I’m very excited about my possibilities going forward. I’m the oldest guy in this camp, I’m one of the older players. I’m one of the more experienced players. I feel like I can help the young guys as well while also pushing the team.”