Jesse Marsch says that Sacha Kljestan (above) and Luis Robles must show “every weekend in the league show that they’re good enough that they belong in that group.” (Keith Furman/Front Row Soccer Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
If Sacha Kljestan and Luis Robles have allowed the disappointment of not getting selected for the United States’ World Cup qualifiers affect their attitude and work ethic, they haven’t showed in Red Bulls training the last two days.
That’s the perspective of Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch.
“Honestly, I haven’t seen any change of behavior, what-so-ever,” Marsch told reporters after training Thursday. .”It’s because they’re both amazing professionals and they’re not ego driven. They’re driven by big goals. Obviously it’s disappointing for them.”
Robles and Kljestan were invited into the USMNT’s January training camp on Carson, Calif. Kljestan was called into the team for the final four games of former head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure, including a pair of qualifiers. The one Seton Hall University star performed well in his limited playing time as a playmaker. With Kljestan and veteran Benny Feilhaber not called into the team, the Americans are left without a natural creative midfielder.
But now it’s time to focus on what is in front of the Red Bulls and that is a Sunday confrontation with the defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field Sunday. Robles will be looking to add to his league record of 142 consecutive games started and played.
“They also know that the way to get there is to continue to perform well in the league,” Marsch said. “They have, they will. We’ll be a good team this year. They’ll be a big part of it.”
If the duo continues to perform at a high level, Marsch said that “it will put more and more pressure on Bruce [Arena, U.S. head coach] to reconsider this decision. So, that’s their job right now; in a respectful manner, root on the national team, as we all will, hope that they get results. But also every weekend in the league show that they’re good enough that they belong in that group.”
The Americans host Honduras in a must-win qualifier at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. Friday, March 24 before visiting Panama in another CONCACAF hexagonal encounter Tuesday, March 28.