On Sunday, after he helped Anderlecht clinch the Belgian league title, American midfielder Sacha Kljestan draped the Stars and Stripes around his shoulders, held a big bottle of Belgian beer and stood right next to Anderlecht captain Lucas Biglia as he lifted the trophy.
“It was such a crazy feeling. It’s something you want to experience all the time,” Kljestan told Brian Straus. “It was like a movie. I couldn’t contain my emotions. I couldn’t get the tears out of my eyes for like 10 minutes after the game. It was crazy.”
Despite excelling and progressing as an individual player, from high school in Huntington Beach and college at Seton Hall to Chivas USA (where he played 5 seasons) and the U.S. national team, Kljestan, 26, never had played for a winner. He lost a Big East Tournament final and a Confederations Cup final and came up short in every competition in between.
Anderlecht coach Ariel Jacobs deploys Kljestan as one of two holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Alongside Biglia, he is asked to focus on maintaining team shape, winning the ball, establishing possession and providing defensive cover for the four primary attackers.