June 17, 2010 - Anderlecht, BELGIUM - epa02207184 US player Sacha Kljestan (L) and Anderlecht's manager Herman Van Holsbeeck pose at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium, with a shirt of RSCA Anderlecht after a press conference in Anderlecht, 17 June 2010. Midfielder Kljestan is one of RSCA Anderlecht's new acquisitions.

As I begin this post, Sacha Kljestan has just scored in his debut for Anderlecht. The Belgian club are playing a Champions League qualifier against Welsh Premier League side The New Saints, and while the competition is hardly strong (The New Saints' home ground has a capacity of 2,000, and the club was called "Total Network Solutions FC" until four years ago), an American scoring in European competition is still rare enough to be notable. Hell, an American scoring almost anywhere outside of the US is still notable on some level.

Sacha's goal has prompted me to consider what his move might mean to those of us watching from the States, being the ardent Americans abroad-watchers that we are. Kljestan's progress as a player has been maddeningly inconsistent, with his play equal parts encouraging and disappointing over the course of the past few years. He frankly admitted that a potential move to Celtic falling through a year and a half ago affected his focus, and his form dipped enough that he lost any National Team favor he had with Bob Bradley and the fans.

Belgium's Jupiler League looks to be a perfect stepping stone for Kljestan, either as a place to make a name before making a move to a bigger stage, or as a place to get better, play more consistently, and eventually get himself into the National Team picture as an important player. There are simply not enough Americans with Sacha's creative abilities for anyone to give up on him; at 24 closing in on 25, four seasons in Europe might turn him into a late-bloomer ready to contribute in Brazil in 2014.

Anderlecht are a big Belgian club. They have a rich history and a demanding fan base, and are coming off a Jupiler League title last year (their 30th). If Kljestan can make his bones there, he'll be doing very well.

Oguchi Onyewu, though on a different career path, made himself into a quality defender while playing in Belgium. Perhaps Sacha, who few think will turn into anything special but who certainly has talent, can do the same at midfielder there. It bears careful watching.

Admittedly, I don't know enough about Anderlecht and their roster to know if Sacaha just started today because of weaker opposition, or if he's worked himself into a semi-permanent spot in the lineup. Nothing will drive USMNT and Americans abroad fans nuts more than a player wasting away on the bench. At his age, Sacha needs to play. If he does, it's possible he'll take a major step forward. With the frustration of missed European opportunities behind him, we just might see a different Sacha Kljestan.

A goal in his debut is a good start. It will be interesting to see if Sacha Kljestan, sometimes MLS star, turns into Sacha Kljestan, successful American in Europe.

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