Sacha Kljestan

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Report: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan

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First Dax McCarty ahead of the 2017 season, and now Sacha Kljestan?

It seems as though the New York Red Bulls could be on the verge of trading away yet another club captain this offseason.

[ MORE: LA FC continues active offseason with addition of Laurent Ciman ]

According to Metro, Los Angeles FC is close to trading for Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan.

The U.S. Men’s National Team attacker has led Major League Soccer in assists over the last two seasons, and has served as an integral piece in the Red Bulls midfield since joining the club in 2015.

The Red Bulls made Kljestan club captain ahead of the 2017 season when former midfielder Dax McCarty was traded away to the Chicago Fire in exchange for allocation money.

Kljestan spent the first five seasons of his MLS career with now-defunct side Chivas USA, before playing in Europe Belgian club Anderlecht.

Altidore, Kljestan react to wild tunnel fracas by blaming each other

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Toronto FC’s MLS Cup Final hopes have taken a big hit after the Reds barely escaped New York Red Bulls’ stiff test at BMO Field on Sunday.

Leading 2-1 after one leg and carrying a pair of away goals, TFC lost a scrappy 1-0 second leg at home to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against Columbus.

[ RECAP: TFC 1-0 (2-2) RBNY ]

The Reds won’t have Sebastian Giovinco for the first leg after a late card for dissent, his second of the tie, and also won’t have Jozy Altidore after on- and off-field skirmishes with USMNT teammate Sacha Kljestan.

Altidore did not cover himself in glory. After Giovinco fouled Red Bulls youngster Tyler Adams, the teams came together in an incident that ended with Kljestan and Altidore going head-to-head before the big TFC forward comically hit the deck after a shove from the Red Bulls midfielder.

Altidore initiates the contact by leaning into Kljestan’s face, and then goes down like the 150-pound diminutive player he is. Oh, that’s right, he’s 6-foot-1 and essentially carved like the response to Michelangelo being asked by an American investor, “Hey, buddy, can you make me a soccer god out of this here marble?”

Those were just a pair of yellows, and life got real nutty for both teams in the tunnel at halftime. There’s a lot of salty language in this video, and it’s NSFW so we won’t embed, but if you want to watch head coaches Greg Vanney and Jesse Marsch yell at each other in the middle of what looked like a wild night at the club, feel free.

Both players were sent off with second yellows after either (thanks to intrepid Toronto Sun reporter Kurtis Larson for the quotes):

A) Altidore shoved Kljestan into a wall

“At halftime he shoved me into the wall. I have a clear conscience,” Kljestan said. “I don’t feel like I deserved a red card. So it’s a pretty helpless feeling to not be able to play in the second half.”

and/or

B) Kljestan went at Altidore from behind

“Yo, Sacha Kljestan, why you snitching bro?” Altidore tweeted. “You tried to pull up on me while my back was turned and almost got that work. Safe flight.”

Cool stories, fellas. For what it’s worth, and it’s not much even if the staffer is a true gem, Larson tweeted that a Toronto FC staffer says Altidore was pulled into the fracas from behind while heading to the dressing room.

Again, it’s someone who works for TFC, the Reds would like to have Altidore for the Conference Finals. So, about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grains of salt that fill BMO Field, but something to consider.

I say the following as someone who if anything would feel a bit of bias as a former season ticket holder ages ago — Toronto was the closest MLS team to my hometown of Buffalo — TFC put forth a display that will turn itself in a villain for most neutrals (and the officiating was admittedly abysmal and let the match out of control). There was plenty of flopping even apart from Altidore’s play acting.

Here’s the MLSSoccer.com take:

Hope the guys sort this out before the World Cup…

Toronto FC beat RBNY at soccer, royal rumble to reach East finals

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The game in 100 words (or less more): When fans of Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls and MLS in general tuned in for the second leg of the above sides’ Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday, surely every last one of them thought, “Gee, I really am looking forward to The Chris Penso Show this afternoon.” Thrust upon the big stage, Penso duly delivered eight yellow cards, two red cards, and lost complete control of the game very early on, which resulted in no fewer than a half-dozen chest-to-chest and hand-to-hand confrontations between players from both sides, and even Penso himself. Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan were each sent off at halftime after reported “violent conduct” as the two sides left the field; the two U.S. national teamers were involved in a silly, seemingly nothing dust-up minutes earlier. As for the actual soccer that was played, New York entered BMO Field 2-1 down before pulling level to 2-2 (though still behind on away goals) through Daniel Royer in the 54th minute. 11 shots between the two sides, just three on target With both sides down to 10 men for the entirety of the second half, the game opened up and a handful of chances came for — and were wasted by — both sides.

[ MORE: 3 keys to Sunday’s 2nd legs ]

Three Four moments that mattered

HT — Altidore, Kljestan get second yellows in the tunnel — It started like this a few minutes before halftime…

… and ended with “violent conduct” in the tunnel, for which both players were shown a second yellow card.

54′ — Royer gets a wicked deflection, scores from nothing — After the halftime shenanigans — and with all that extra space on the field — this game needed a goal to keep it interesting. Royer and/or Bradley Wright-Phillips delivered in short order. Game on.

78′ — Adams puts it in his own net, but Osorio is offside — It’s the (own) TFC needed to put the tie to bed, but Jonathan Osorio was offside and clearly affected Tyler Adams’ ability to clear the ball.

80′ — Giovinco mouths off, gets himself suspended next game — After picking up a yellow in the first leg, Giovinco reached the limit when he chased after and shouted at Penso.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Aaron Long

Goalscorers: Royer (54′)

Red Bulls knock off host Chicago behind BWP goal, assist (video)

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The match in 100 words (or bit, it’s the playoffs): In the MLS Cup Playoffs, sometimes you gotta go to the dirty places and get a little bit of luck from your opponent: An injured Michael de Leeuw and unfit Bastian Schweinsteiger qualify as the latter for the No.3 seed Chicago Fire. The New York Red Bulls got in close to apply the former, with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan sliding into the box to give RBNY a 2-0 lead after just 11 minutes of their first round playoff match-up at Toyota Park.

BWP also recorded an assist, and Daniel Royer and Gonzalo Veron scored late goals to salt away Chicago’s resurgence at one playoff game, ruining ex-teammate Dax McCarty’s Fire playoff debut. Now the Red Bulls earn two legs against the team with the best record in MLS history: Toronto FC.

[ MORE: Latest in Crew relocation saga ]

The moments that mattered

7′ — Lampson freezes, BWP goes BWP — Chicago Fire goalkeeper Veljko Paunovic rested his starting keeper on Sunday, and who knows if that played a big role in this moment here?

11′ — Kljestan goes to the dirty places — Sacha Kljestan is not going to be afraid of the big stage, and the former Anderlecht man did what was needed to give the Red Bulls a surprising 2-0 lead.

70′ — Royer puts it to bed — Chicago turned to Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 65th minute for his first run since early September, and the Fire also went to three at the back. That backfired quickly.

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MLS Snapshot: RBNY trounce VAN, clinch East’s final playoff spot

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The game in 100 words (or less): Just when we were oh so sure the Vancouver Whitecaps had solidified themselves as the cream of the Western Conference crop, Carl Robinson’s side lands flat on its collective face in suffering a 3-0 defeat away to the New York Red Bulls a week later. A win would have put Vancouver seven points clear (for the time being) of everyone in the West. Instead, Sporting Kansas City feature in one of two games in hand later on Saturday with a chance to close the gap to one. New York, meanwhile, needed just three more points to clinch the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference, which they did thanks to another standout, two-assist performance by Sacha Kljestan. The 32-year-old set up goals scored by Daniel Royer and Felipe to take his average to 17 assists per season for the last three years. Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged the other goal (assisted by 18-year-old stud Tyler Adams).

[ MORE: USMNT routs Panama to boost WC dreams in a big way ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Kljestan feeds Royer to make it 1-0 — Kljestan tallied his 50th assist in just under three seasons since returning to MLS, which positions him among pristine company. Royer still has plenty of work to do after getting on the end of Kljestan’s ball.

58′ — BWP dinks it past Ousted for 2-0 Wright-Phillips should be lauded for the cheeky finish after carrying the ball 40 yards, but the real story here is the ball from Adams. Watch it and feel safe in knowing he’s ready for the call, USMNT fans.

72′ — Felipe hits a laser for 3-0 — Make that 51 assists for Kljestan, who still had lots of work to do once inside the penalty area. The ball back for Felipe looks simple enough after all he did to keep it in bounds and create a bit of separation for himself.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sacha Kljestan

Goalscorers: Royer (33′), Wright-Phillips (58′), Felipe (72′)