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Kljestan's Korner: U.S. MNT Camp Diary - Entry No. 1

U.S. MNT Camp Diary -Entry No. 1

Some of you may know me, some of you may not, but I’m Sacha Kljestan and I am a midfielder for Chivas USA. I’m 21 years old and this is my first camp with the full national team so it’s obviously pretty exciting. I’ll be giving you all a little look through the eyes of a rookie in this camp.

The first night we got in for dinner and a meeting. I drove over to the hotel which is about 10 minutes from my apartment, so that was an easy start. We had a team dinner where I met all the players, coaches and administrators. We had a short meeting after dinner where Bob went through what the camp would be like. Having played for him at Chivas USA over the past season, I knew what to expect, so I was excited to just get on the field the next morning and start playing. It’s a little weird being in the same room as these guys, having had some major battles in the midfield during the season. Pablo (Mastroeni) and I got into it a few times during the year, and a shoving incident with Rico (Ricardo) Clark wound up getting him sent to the showers early. That’s all behind you once you step off the field, and we are part of the same team now. Clearly, they are all good guys, so it ends up being very easy.

The first training we had was pretty intense and felt like a hundred miles per hour early on, especially in the first possession keep-away game. Everyone is fighting to make the roster for the game against Denmark. We mixed in a little bit of fitness as well. Later that day we had a second session that was more focused on playing. The game settled down a little bit, and it was fun to get things going. We played a four-goal game, with the goals on the 18-yard box. It’s a good game because it works on movement and changing the point of attack. It was a good, tough first day to get camp started. Bob demands a lot out of players and everyone is obviously willing to put in the work to make this team special. We are having team dinners at night to get to spend time together off the field, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys because I really only knew Jonny Bornstein and Michael Parkhurst beforehand. Matt Reis is quite a character, so he’s fun to sit and listen to. Kyle Beckerman seems like a cool guy and somebody I could get along with well.

Day Two started the same way, with breakfast in the morning and then off to The Home Depot Center (probably the nicest place to come to work every day). The morning session was similar to the day before with some possession and a quick full-field game mixed with some fitness at the end. The afternoon session was spent in the gym, where we work out during the season as well. Some of the guys lifted while a few others did testing, such as vertical jump and flexibility. The cold whirlpool has been a pretty good friend of ours early on, with some of us being pretty sore after some tough opening sessions. Being the youngest guy in camp hasn’t been difficult or anything since the older guys have been very welcoming and helpful early on. A quick meeting after dinner and that was it for the night. We headed back to our rooms for some down time - which is pretty much just resting and watching TV. For the most part, Jonny and I like to watch the same stuff, so no fighting over the remote control.

Day Three again started with breakfast before training at The HDC. We split up into an 8v8 game early on with a third team doing some finishing with our assistant coach Peter Nowak. He has a lot of passion and obviously knows the game, so there is a lot to learn from him. We finished again with 10 minutes of fitness. The second session was pretty fun. We started with a team handball game, where the rule is you can only score with your head. For 10 minutes we played and the game ended in a 1-1 tie; my team would lose in sudden death overtime. Bummer. We moved to 5v2, and then split up into four teams for a round-robin small-sided tournament. Obviously my team was the champion, despite some controversy. Let’s just say there was a dispute over the scoring, but we’re taking the win. After training we were given the night to have dinner on our own, so I went to my local sushi spot; muy bueno, as we say at Chivas. I am back in my hotel room now watching TV before I go to sleep. I think it’s gone pretty well so far. It’s been tough, but it’s been a great experience for me getting to play with such great players. Everyone is really pushing each other to get to the next level, and that makes it all worth it. Goodnight for now. I’ll be back with my second entry in a few days.