USA-Mexico: Kljestan will wear mask to protect broken nose

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
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Sacha Kljestan won’t let something silly like a broken nose keep him off the field when the U.S. national team takes on Mexico in the two sides’ highly anticipated “Hexagonal” opener on Friday (7:45 p.m. ET).

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Not even if the injury to that now-crooked sniffer meant more than 10 minutes spent on the sidelines waiting for bleeding to subside before re-entering Sunday’s MLS Cup Playoffs clash with the Montreal Impact. And, especially not considering the New York Red Bulls’ 2016 season came to an end on Sunday, not long after Kljestan saw his all-important penalty kick, which would have tied the conference semifinals tie at 1-1, saved by Evan Bush.

The 31-year-old, who only reclaimed his place as a USMNT regular this fall after making a single appearance in 2014 and 2015, figures to start as the Yanks’ no. 10 against El Tri, but will do so while sporting a bit of extra headgear, he revealed on Tuesday — quotes from MLSsoccer.com:

“It’s broken in a couple of places. It was a pretty bad hit, but I think they’re going to build me a mask and I’ll be OK. It will be interesting, but I’ll get used to it quickly and I’ll be ready to go.”

“I had never seen so much blood. The difficult part for me was that the blood was coming down my throat, so they didn’t want to let me back on the field until it stopped going down my throat and was just coming out of my nose.”

[ USA vs. MEX: Three important questions ahead of the Hex opener ]

Kljestan, alongside 18-year-old Christian Pulisic, will be relied upon as the driving force and creative hub of the USMNT attack on Friday. With his club season over, the 2018 World Cup qualifying clashes against Mexico and Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica — Tuesday, Nov. 15) will be Kljestan’s last chance to end 2016, a year in which he notched 20 assists in 32 MLS appearances for the Red Bulls, on a high note.