Sacha Kljestan has played alongside both Landon Donovan and Christian Pulisic, giving him a unique perspective on both. And in the eyes of the New York Red Bulls midfielder, he sees a lot of the legendary Donovan in the teenager Pulisic.
So much so that on Friday, he invoked the name of Donovan, the most-capped player in United States history, when describing Pulisic.
Last week, Kljestan assisted on two Pulisic goals in World Cup qualifying as the 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund attacker looks to establish himself as a starter on the United States national team. His story is not unlike that of Donovan, who was also was a teenage sensation for the United States and who, like Pulisic, started his professional career in Germany before eventually becoming a star in MLS.
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And while Pulisic has a long way to go towards Donovan’s 157 international appearances and 57 goals, Kljestan sees some similar traits.
“He reminds me a lot of Landon Donovan in the way that he plays, the way that he moves. And he’s obviously strong with both feet — a player for the future,” Kljestan said on Friday. “Without putting too much pressure on him, I think he’s going to be a good player going forward.”
Ironically, Donovan announced this past Thursday that he was coming out of retirement (again) to rejoin the Los Angeles Galaxy for the final stretch of the MLS season. It wasn’t a surprise for Kljestan, who is a frontrunner for the MVP award, named after Donovan.
“I didn’t think he’d really stay away because I can’t imagine next year, quitting soccer and basically being at home all the time. I’d miss this too much,” Kljestan said. “I felt like he’d miss it because I know he has a big passion for our sport. I’m happy to see him back, I’m excited to watch him play again because he’s a dynamic player and one of the best players in MLS history. I’m happy for him.”