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Bulls Abroad: Sacha Kljestan, USMNT Draw Serbia

A bit of a lackluster performance by the boys in white

New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan got the nod to start for the United States national team in Sunday evening’s 0-0 draw against Serbia. Kljestan found himself in a familiar spot as the #10 role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same spot he plays with RBNY.

The first 15 minutes were fairly slow as the two teams felt each other out. The US had decent field position on three fouls around the penalty area, but Kljestan’s crosses couldn’t find their targets. The US lacked some off-the-ball movement for the entire game, which played into Serbia’s heavier press across the US’s midfield and back line.

The US gained a bit of momentum in the 19th minute when a long ball forward found Jozy Altidore’s head during some hold up play, which found Jermaine Jones fairly open outside the box. Jones couldn’t hit the target from outside the box as he missed wide right.

The US and Serbia had a few chances back and forth, but none could really get anything going. The US’ best scoring opportunity of the first half came in the 29th & 38th minutes. After some decent build up play, Darlington Nagbe hit two curling shots from the corner of the box and JUST missed the opposite side netting The Serbian keeper wouldn’t have had a chance on either.

In the second half, the US opened things up a bit more, but things became too little, too late as some of the super subs seemed to be heating up just as the game wound down. Another good chance was late when Juan Agudelo had a clear chance to goal, but elected to cut it back to his left foot and was denied. The rebound came to Chris Pontius, who just pushed it just wide of goal.

Kljestan had a solid first half, but didn’t create as many chances that he usually does for the Red Bulls. Kljestan was booked in the 57th minute for his foul on Serbia, then was subbed out for Benny Feilhaber in the 77th minute. Players that impressed the most were Nagbe and LA Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget. RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles did not appear for the Stars & Stripes.

The USMNT will head across the country for their last Cupcake game against Kemar Lawrence and Jamaica in Chattanooga on Friday night, televised live on Fox Sports 1. Jamaica will have games with the US and Honduras during February.