MICHAEL ADUBATO - Monday, October 21, 2013
Sacha Kljestan was on the bench for Anderlecht on Friday night when the Belgian champions faced bottom of the league RAEC Mons at the Stade Charles Tondreau.
Having played on Tuesday night in Panama and just returned to Brussels a day later, he was rested for this 2-0 victory.
"I just made it back to Belgium," the Seton Hall alumni told Yanks Abroad. "I flew from Panama to New York and then from New York to Brussels. In total it was about 14 hours."
Kljestan played the full 90 minutes against the Panamanians in a game that saw that nations hopes of making it to the World Cup shatter when the USA put two stoppage time goals past the Panama and LA Galaxy goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo, thereby allowing Mexico to still qualify for Brazil via the play-offs.
"I'm sure they (Mexico) are thankful," the former Chivas USA man said. "It really makes no difference to us however; our idea was to go into the game, (a game) we knew what was at stake for Mexico, but we played for ourselves."
With Jurgen Klinsmann having time to come up with his World Cup roster Kljestan said that, "there were still a lot of us on that day that wanted to show that we belong on the national team and trying to earn a spot in the World Cup so we definitely weren't going to go down there and try to lose a game or take it easy at the end of a game which we knew that we were losing."
"In my opinion Panama didn't play very smart; they attacked too much when they were already winning 2-1 and we punished them. That's life. That's football. I feel bad for Panama because I could see all the pain on their faces but that's football."
With the World Cup qualifiers behind him now, the Californian and Anderlecht midfielder now has a Champions League game to prepare for. Zlatan Ibrahimović and his Paris Saint-Germain team will make the three hour drive from the French capital to the Belgian capital for the midweek clash.
"It is definitely a big match for us on Wednesday. We know its going to be tough because PSG is by far the strongest team in our group. It's going to be a difficult game but we want to do well."
After Friday night's game, the team will rest a day and then start their preparations.
"We'll get into training, watch some videos this week and talk with the coaches. But we're playing at home so we desperately need three points but it's going to be very difficult so we can't put our expectations too high."
After a pair of games in their group, the Belgian champions have yet to register a point or a goal; having lost 3-0 to Olympiakos and 2-0 to Benfica.
"It's going to get even more important as we get towards the end of the group stage; we'll play Benfica at home and we'll play Olympiakos (in Athens). It's important that we take some points in those games."
At this stage PSG leads the group with two victories while the Portuguese and Greek teams have three points apiece.
After facing the French team, Anderlecht will get back to league action over the weekend when they take to the field against Oguchi Onyewu's former employer and current league leaders, Standard Liege.