Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan played the full 90 minutes for the United States Olympic Team on Thursday in the squad’s 1-0 victory over Japan in the opening match of the Beijing Games for both players.
Kljestan had his thoughts on the match, explaining what the team needed to do after heading into the locker room at halftime with the game tied 0-0:
“I think we needed to settle the game down a little bit and keep the ball more to make them run more, not make us run. In a game like that you need to have possession more than half the time to not kill yourself. I think we did that after we scored the goal. We made them run a bit and obviously when it got late in the game they started throwing everybody forward and it was tough, but we battled. I have so much respect for our team because we fought so hard tonight.”
“It was awesome,” Sacha said, talking about the experience as a whole. “This is the best feeling in the world. It’s crazy out there just knowing everybody is watching and knowing this is the Olympics, what we’ve worked so hard for. To get a victory is so wonderful right now. We feel really good about the team.”
A couple of his teammates from Chivas USA also saw the match, which was broadcast at 2:00 a.m. on the West Coast.
“Most guys had pretty good games,” said Red-and-White midfielder Jesse Marsch. “It could have gone either way. Sacha, when he plays in the middle, has to do a few more responsible things, but when he needed to make some tackles, he made some tackles … I still thought that he helped the team in many ways.”
Chivas USA defender Jim Curtin also saw the game, and thought it was a close matchup. “Overall, it was a good team effort. They kind of got a little fortunate – they dodged two bullets. Japan could have gone ahead… they pressured Japan a lot.”