by JACK BELL
Hours before they faced the defending champion of Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders, on Sunday the New York Red Bulls received some good news and some bad news.
The good news: The club’s captain and midfield general Sacha Kljestan was called up to the United States national team for two crucial World Cup qualifying matches over the nine days. Kljestan (18 caps) replaces the Hamburg striker Bobby Wood, who recently sustained a back injury. In addition to Kljestan, defender Matt Besler (10 caps) was added to the 25-man training roster ahead of the games.
The bad news: Kljestan will miss the Red Bulls’ home game on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
“I’m very excited,” Kljestan said in audio supplied by the Red Bulls. “I just want to go in and help the team. It doesn’t matter if I was the first or the 25th player called in, I just want to make an impact, whether I play 180 minutes or don’t play in two games. The biggest thing right now is that we need couple of wins. We’re not in a great spot so I just want to go in and help the guys get this back on track.”
The U.S., now coached by Bruce Arena, who replaced Jurgen Klinsmann late last year, hosts Honduras in San Jose, Calif., on Friday night, then travel to Panama for a game on March 28. The American team is currently in last place in the final round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region, with no points from two games.