May 20, 2013, 11:09 AM EST
It’s easy to lose track of Sacha Kljestan, who just keeps chugging down the tracks of a pretty good career in European soccer.
It’s not the glamour soccer of England or Italy or Germany or Spain. It’s not even the Dutch Eredivisie or the Scottish Premier League, where name brands make us think these leagues may be better top to bottom than then really are.
Rather, Kljestan is an establish man around Anderlecht, which just claimed a first-place trophy in the Belgian Pro League (the country’s top division).
Thus, Kljestan became the fifth American to defend a title in a top league.
Kljestan nearly nailed a game-winner, but 10-man Anderlecht finished in a 1-1 draw against visiting Zulte Waregem, which was good enough to retain first place for the Brussels club.
Just because this is the second crown in two years, don’t expect this stuff to get old for the U.S. international midfielder. Last year’s trophy was quite special for the California native. Here’s what the Sporting News’ Brian Straus wrote one year ago, before Klestan and Anderlecht won the Belgian top tier championship for the 2011-12 campaign.
Despite excelling and progressing as an individual player, from high school in Huntington Beach and college at Seton Hall to Chivas USA and the U.S. national team, Kljestan, 26, never had played for a winner. He lost a Big East Tournament final and a Confederations Cup final and came up short in every competition in between.
Kljestan will join Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. training camp next week as players gather in Cleveland ahead of two high-profile friendlies and three World Cup qualifiers in June.
Kljestan, meanwhile, clearly remains magnanimous in victory:
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