Sacha Kljestan insists he's not bitter about not being named to the national team roster for its first four qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup. But you sure couldn't blame him if he was.
After all, Kljestan is one of just three Americans competing in the Champions League this season. Two weeks ago, his two-way play in midfield helped Anderlecht, the Belgian power he's been a consistent starter for since early 2011, earn a valuable road point against seven-time European champ AC Milan.
But Kljestan hasn't had any contact with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann since last spring, right after the U.S. veteran helped Anderlecht finish atop the Jupiler League and qualify for the world's toughest, most prestigious club competition.
"I got a note from Jurgen after we won the championship in May congratulating me, but also letting me know that I wasn't part of the group for the first qualifiers in June," Kljestan told Insider from Brussels last week.
And that's how it's gone for Kljestan under the Klinsmann administration -- not that Kljestan is letting it get to him.
"I still try to watch the games, and I remain the national team's No. 1 supporter, as I have been my whole life," he said. "But it's disappointing not to be part of the U.S. team when you feel like you can help."
The U.S. needs all the help it can get heading into next week's game in Antigua and, four days later, against Guatemala in Kansas City. Another upset loss like the one the Yanks suffered in Jamaica last month, and the USA's hopes of reaching a seventh consecutive World Cup could be dashed, quite incredibly, before the final round of qualifying even begins early next year.
That said, the U.S. remains an overwhelming favorite to advance. But it's still hard to argue that the experienced Kljestan, with 35 caps to his name, wouldn't at least bolster the squad's depth. Given his stellar current form, it's difficult to know what the 27-year-old -- who has made just two substitute appearances for the U.S. since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley 14 months ago -- needs to do to get a longer look.