clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

LA Galaxy 2022 Player Postmortem: Sacha Kljestan

Final go-round for veteran midfielder?

Los Angeles FC v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Dave Bernal/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Sacha Kljestan returned for his third season with the LA Galaxy in 2022, the 13th in MLS in his long career.

Turning 37 in September, Kljestan admitted way back in 2020 that he was thinking about retirement, and it’ll be interesting to see what he chooses to do in this offseason, if he wants to continue on or if this will be the end of the road.

This season, injury and age seemed to firmly put Kljestan in permanent reserve status in MLS. He has been splitting time between starting and coming off the bench dating back to 2019 with Orlando City, but this season he almost exclusively served as a late-game sub for LA. Considering he’s had success in the past in entering the game as a substitute and making a real contribution, bringing him back for another season made sense, and he still had limited production in limited minutes.

Here are Kljestan’s competitive stats in 2022:

Sacha Kljestan LA Galaxy 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 21 1 426 1 2 8 2 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 2 2 180 0 0 2 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 23 3 606 1 2 10 2 0 0

I think as a sign that maybe he wouldn’t play a huge role this year, Kljestan’s lone goal this season came immediately before a hip injury kept him out for some time.

A sign of Kljestan’s terrific skills as a playmaker, this back heel assist on a goal:

So he’s still got it in spurts, but I think it was pretty clear he slowed down this year, and the 426 regular season minutes this year are by far the fewest he’s played in an MLS season to date.

At the same time, I think it’s worth noting Kljestan’s off-field role, even at this point. He is one of the best players to talk to, and frequently spoke to the press, often drawing the bummer role of having to face the press after a loss, when nobody else wants to do the media stuff. I think he’s also a leader and a good mentor in a locker room with a variety of ages, and he’s done well to help transform the Galaxy squad to go from a collection of guys who don’t seem to get along all that much to an actual team.

Kljestan probably had two of the best off-field stories this year, too. Re-uniting with Charlotte FC winger Chris Hegardt, who Kljestan and his wife had visited when Hegardt was a boy undergoing treatment for cancer was honestly one of the coolest stories of the year around the league.

On a far more somber note, Kljestan spoke out about the need for gun control in the aftermath of the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas.

He’s a smart guy, he’s easy to talk to, he’s a good team player and he’s still got flashes of what made him one of the best midfielders in MLS in years past.

37 now, Kljestan will be out of contract at season’s end, and I think there’s a solid chance he retires as a player. If he wants to stay in the game he should not have much trouble finding a new role — I know that’s a touchy subject at the Galaxy, with former players chock full in roles throughout the club, to varying levels of success — but Kljestan should have plenty of post-playing career options, if he wants to stay in the sport.

We’ll see what happens, and if this is it on Kljestan’s career, and we’ll say more if it is. But for now, 2022 was a season where Kljestan played a part, but Father Time may truly be catching up to him at this point.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.