clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Sacha Kljestan and Jermaine Jones to start for USA vs. Belgium

New, 1 comment

Michael Bradley will get some well-earned time off after the Coppa Italia final, leaving Sacha Kljestan and Jermaine Jones to man the midfield.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jurgen Klinsmann said on Tuesday that Sacha Kljestan and Jermaine Jones would start in the center of the midfield in the United States' friendly against Belgium. Michael Bradley will likely start on the bench, which makes sense considering that he was in Rome playing the Coppa Italia final on Sunday and could use a breahter.

Jones will be making his return to the U.S. team after missing the team's last match, a draw at Mexico in World Cup qualifying, with an injury. But Jones was expected to be back in the team and starting. It is the inclusion of Sacha Kljestan in the starting XI that is especially interesting.

Kljestan had trouble breaking into Klinsmann's team when the German took over the U.S., often being left off of the team or only called in to replace an injured player despite playing well for Anderlecht. But Klinsmann has warmed to Kljestan of late and the midfielder has gotten more looks.

Wednesday's match will be the best look Klinsmann has given Kljestan, and a real opportunity to establish himself as a part of the team going into the rest of World Cup qualifying. Kljestan is normally a central midfielder, but has spent a lot of time with the U.S. as a wide player pinching it. Against Belgium, he will play in his natural central role, giving him his best chance to date to impress.

It's hard to imagine Kljestan unseating Bradley or Jones in the starting XI anytime soon, but he could make himself a regular off the bench in a role similar to that of Benny Feilhaber in 2010. Feilhaber rarely started, but he played in nearly every match, allowing the U.S. to change their formation and style of play in the second halves. Kljestan could do the same for the U.S., and he can take a major step in that direction with a good match on Wednesday.