Sacha Kljestan relishes chance to play former team


Orlando City midfielder Sacha Kljestan will be going up against his former club that traded him this past offseason when the Lions host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at Orlando City Stadium.

“I feel good,” Kljestan said after practice Tuesday. “I’m excited to play. I want to get our first win and even better if it can come against my former team. It’ll be fun to see the guys again. I spent a few good years and have some very good relationships with those guys. So, you always want to win against your friends and your brothers, so I want to win this game.”

The Red Bulls traded Kljestan to Orlando on Jan. 3, along with $150,000 of Targeted Allocation Money, in exchange for forward Carlos Rivas and defender Tommy Redding.

After serving a two-game suspension to begin the season, Kljestan has only appeared for the Lions in their most recent game during a 2-0 defeat to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on March 17.

As the team now is set to play at home, Kljestan is thrilled to not only make his home debut, but to take on the team that he accomplished so much with in MLS.

“They’re very organized and have a very good style of play that they stick to and don’t deviate from, so we should know what to expect coming in,” he said on his former team. “A lot of pressure, a lot of turnovers, a lot of transition opportunities, so we’ve got to be good with the ball and be good at tracking back when we do turn over the ball, we want to be able to counter fast. And then some very good players. Luis Robles, one of the best keepers in the league, Bradley Wright-Phillips one of the best strikers in the league. So, at all times we [have to] know where Bradley is, really not give him any chances because if he gets any chances he usually buries them.”

Wright-Phillips, who is coming off winning MLS Player of the Week, will be a tough task for Orlando’s defense, while the recent play of Robles in goal will be a challenge for an offense that has only scored one goal this season.

Despite that, Kljestan is confident in himself and his new team’s ability to secure their first win of the season against a quality opponent.

The game will broadcast live from Orlando City Staon UniMas and Twitter. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City SC)

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