Sacha Kljestan reaches MLS game number 300 and Dan Steres helps the defense, and the offense, in draw to Colorado.
The Galaxy earned their first point in four years in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids at Dick Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., a notable accomplishment that overshadowed one of a more personal nature.
Galaxy midfielder Sacha Kljestan, in his 12th season in Major League Soccer, played in his 300th MLS game. That tied him with Portland’s Diego Chara for 48th on the league’s all-time list for games played. At the top of the list is former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who played in 514 games. The rest of the top five are Kyle Beckerman (498 games), Jeff Larentowicz (437), Kevin Hartman (416), Chad Marshall (409), and Dax McCarty and Chris Wondolowski, both of them at 402.
Kljestan, who turned 36 on Thursday and is in his second season with the Galaxy, said 300 felt more like “550 or 600” if he added in games he played for Chivas USA and Belgian side RSC Anderlecht along with U.S. Open Cup and MLS playoff games.
“I’ve talked to guys before,” he said, “and being available is a skill. I have been available through my whole career. I think I’ve missed through injury seven games out of all these, whatever, five or six hundred (games). Some of that is a little bit of luck, not having any major injuries, and another part is the way I handle myself professionally, I think, and take care of myself.
“A lot of those games I remember. You can tell me the game and I would probably tell you the result and what happened. I’ll never forget my first game. I don’t really remember one hundred or two hundred in MLS, but there are a lot of games in there I’ve enjoyed very much and everything it’s brought me in my life.
“I’m very thankful to reach this milestone,” he went on, “and hopefully keep going for many more.”
A reporter jokingly asked Kljestan if he would try for 300 more games.
“We’ll see,” he replied with a grin.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney has been preaching about improving a defense that ranks in the bottom third of the Western Conference in goals allowed and apparently is willing to try anything, even the three-man (or five-man) backline he employed Saturday.
Occupying the center of that formation was none other than seven-year veteran Dan Steres, who hadn’t been heard from much since he injured his left hamstring eight minutes into a 2-1 loss to Seattle on June 21. But Steres went the full 90 against the Rapids, assisted on the only Galaxy goal, and understandably was thankful for the opportunity to play again.
“I felt really good. I’ve been itching to get out there,” he said. “I missed playing. It was tough going back in after a month and a half of no games. I’d be lying if I wasn’t feeling it toward the second half there, but I want to be out there helping the team, and hopefully that’s what I did today.”
Steres said he thought the new defensive approach was successful.
“I thought just for the first part it went pretty well,” he said. “It’s the first time kind of rolling it out; we worked on it in training a bit and had gone over some things. The three in the back felt pretty comfortable. The guys were organized, allowed us to step out and be strong.
“As far as the rest of the year we’ll see. I’m not making my call, but it was something we worked on in the two weeks we had (off) and something we’re going to have in our toolbox if we need it or we want to go that way.
“That will be up to the coaches, obviously.”
Steres wouldn’t say he almost was a forgotten man on defense, but he admitted playing time has been tough to come by because of the talent at Vanney’s disposal.
“We have a good squad this year, a lot of guys ready to step up and play,” Steres said. “There’s going to be competition. I’m just trying to work and earn my spot here and then put out the effort on the field and hopefully the coaches notice and I get to keep a spot or earn that spot again.
“I had games in the beginning of the year I thought went pretty well. The injury kind of sidetracked me and I’m just trying to get back to fully fit and being able to help the team.”