Hot List: Americans making noise abroad 

October, 28, 2011
10/28/11
11:47
AM ET

In an attempt to go beyond the ubiquitous weekly roundups of American soccer players abroad, we're taking a slightly different approach and beefing up our analysis of foreign-based U.S. national team-eligible players. The idea, which we plan on making a recurring feature in this blog, is to look every so often at a few under-the-radar and/or out-of-favor guys performing well (or poorly) for their clubs, and tell you how their form might affect their international prospects. It's not a comprehensive list, mind you; unless a known quantity -- Clint Dempsey, for example -- is moved to a new position or something else (coaching change, injury, etc.) happens that could impact how or where he plays for the Yanks, we probably wonąt have reason to discuss him here.

What we will do, though, is provide some insight into why certain foreign-based players might be in or out of favor with coach Jurgen Klinsmann at a given moment, and ultimately what their performances overseas could mean for the U.S. squad.

With that in mind, let's take a look at what's going on in the rest of the world.

Warming up

Sacha Kljestan, MF, Anderlecht (Belgium)
Why he's here: Kljestan isn't getting much love from Klinsmann these days, but he has quietly become a fixture for Belgium's best team (Anderlecht also leads its Europa League group) just over a year after arriving in Europe.

What this means: Not much. One problem for Kljestan is that the U.S. has a ton of central midfield depth. Another is a lack of pace, which makes him ineffective on the wings. The 26-year-old probably fits best in a more advanced position in the middle, which is where Jose Torres and Dempsey have been deployed recently. But from the look of it, Klinsmann isn't convinced Kljestan fits in at all. After playing decently for the U.S. against Costa Rica last month, the former Chivas USA captain was benched against Belgium and stayed home for the U.S.'s two most recent tilts despite consistent club form. At this point, a well-taken goal or two could be his best bet to earn another look.


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Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.

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