Former Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan helped his club RSC Anderlecht win the Jupiler League title today, after Anderlecht drew 1-1 with Club Brugge. It is the first league title of Kljestan's professional career, and the Californian was an integral member of the Anderlecht squad, as he played in both the Belgian domestic campaign and the Europa League this season.
Big congratulations are in order, as is speculation as to what the future could hold for him. He's in the middle of a four year contract with Anderlecht, and finding stability with a title-winning team in a decent European league is not something to scoff at. It might be to the 26 year old's benefit to continue to work hard in Belgium, and perhaps if his career is flying high in another year, he might consider moving on to a bigger challenge. Additionally, there has been speculation that Kljestan could get recalled into the United States Men's National Team during the upcoming World Cup qualifiers beginning this summer. Considering the attention Kljestan got for his "Are you even watching?" tweet directed at USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann last fall, it seems the coach didn't hold a grudge as he brought Kljestan on as a substitute in the Americans' 1-0 win over Italy in a friendly back in February. Although the midfield appears to be a strong part of the American talent pool, it seems quite likely that Kljestan will get more action with the national team this year.Kljestan is not the only Chivas player to go on to win a title after leaving the Goats, but it could be argued that his title is the most impressive yet. Remember, his former Chivas teammate Jonathan Bornstein won the 2011 Apertura title in Mexico with Tigres, but he seldom played during that campaign.
Francisco "Paco" Palencia, an original Goat, also won a couple of titles after leaving Chivas, when he won the 2009 Clausura and 2011 Clausura with Pumas UNAM before retiring last year.
Another original member, Douglas Sequeira, won the 2010 Costa Rican title with Saprissa.
Another former Chivas player, Amado Guevara, eventually returned to Honduras and won the 2010-11 title with Motagua. Despite his time with Chivas, Guevara is much better known for his peak years with the New York MetroStars/Red Bulls, but he is still a player who spent time with Chivas and subsequently won a title.
Within MLS, original Goat Ezra Hendrickson won the 2008 MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew, after spending a little more than a season with Chivas. As far as my research indicates, Hendrickson is the only former Chivas player who went on to win MLS Cup after leaving the team.
So, six players in eight seasons have won titles (in top flight leagues) after playing for Chivas. Of course, if Chivas won a title of their own, that would increase the number of winners five times over, and we wouldn't need to concern ourselves so much with players who subsequently won titles away from Chivas. But it goes to show how significant Kljestan's title with Anderlecht truly is. Chivas are still a young club, and they are still working on building a winning culture. But Kljestan's accomplishment certainly brings at least a little pride to all Chivas fans. Well done Sacha!
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