HARRISON, N.J. – Even though it is early June, there is plenty of MVP talk already in MLS about the likes of Giovinco - the league’s reigning MVP - as well as impact players such as David Villa or Ignacio Piatti. But talk to members of the New York Red Bulls and one name clearly rises to their lips.
And no it isn’t forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, tied for second in the league in goals.
It is Sacha Kljestan, the engine of the Red Bulls midfield and perhaps the most unassuming, under-the-radar star in the league.
As the league enters its lull for the Copa America tournament, Kljestan is the league-leader with eight assists. For a Red Bulls team that was on the brink in early May, Kljestan’s rise in recent weeks has led to a hot streak for the team.
In his last seven games, the United States international has eight assists and the Red Bulls have five wins, a loss and a draw during that time. It is a hot streak that is propelling the team – for instance Bradley Wright-Phillips was named MLS Player of the Month for May in large part due to Kljestan pulling the strings in the midfield.
“He’s meant a lot to this team on so many levels. It is exemplified on the field but there is so much that people don’t see. The clout he has within our player group is at the highest level. As much as he may not be your classic No. 10, we feel he fits into our system in a perfect way. The way he can commit to and understand the tactics and his intelligence and savviness on the field means that we can command games,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch told Metro. “To me, he is as important to us as any other player is to their team. So yeah, he’s an MVP candidate.”
After their slow start to the season, the Red Bulls now sit tied for second in the Eastern Conference.
Kljestan, inexplicably despite his hot form, was left off the United States' roster for Copa America.