WAG of the Week: Jamie Lee Darley

Sacha-K-girlfriend-JLee-DarleyWhen you look at U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan, you might see a lanky midfielder with an ill-advised mustache.

But when English-born, American-bred model Jamie Lee Darley looks at him, she sees something else entirely. So much so that she married the guy this past summer. Darley (left) is a model and an occasional actress who finished runner-up in the 2009 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Model Search.

Her man, for his part, is enjoying a bit of a career resurgence at the moment. His club team, Anderlecht, is on track to defend its Belgian Jupiler League title, cruising along with a 16-2-4 record as of this writing, and he has solidified himself as not only a starter but also a key figure for the team. This winter, he was a part of Anderlecht’s first Champions League entrant in seven years.

Kljestan has also worked himself back into the U.S. national team picture, getting selected by Jurgen Klinsmann for the October 2012 CONCACAF qualifiers, with more call-ups likely to follow in 2013.

But we digress. Here’s Miss Darley again. Enjoy:

Sacha-KGf-

Yanks In England, Week 10: Tracking Back

It was a busy week. Let’s dive right in:

Clint Dempsey started, played 90 minutes, and scored two goals in Fulham’s 2-0 win over Wigan on Saturday. Both goals were excellent, and the first one was set up by Carlos Salcido of Mexico. CONCACAF in the house!

Highlights below, in stylish black-and-white video shot by Martin Scorsese and scored by Quincy Jones:

Dempsey’s performance prompted ex-Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp to call the Texan the “best American to have played over here.”

Do you agree? The MLS website conducted a poll, and Kasey Keller is currently in the lead, by a wide margin.

We say if you counted outfield players only—since American keepers have owned the Premier League for decades now, as the Yorkshireman would no doubt agree—Dempsey might just be your winner.

Brian McBride and Landon Donovan would give him a run for the money, but Donovan’s sample size is too small, and Dempsey is still in his prime with a few years left to surpass McBride’s accomplishments, if he hasn’t already.

Fulham’s other Yank, Eddie Johnson did not dress for the Wigan game.

Stuart Holden started and went the full 90 in Bolton’s 1-0 loss to Liverpool at the Reebok on Sunday. He narrowly missed tucking in a cross at the back post in the second half.

Brad Friedel started, played 120 minutes and made six saves in Aston Villa’s 2-1 extra-time win over Burnley in the fourth round of the Carling Cup this past Wednesday. He also went the distance in Villa’s 0-0 derby draw with Birmingham City on Saturday.

Brad Guzan dressed for both Villa games but did not play.

Eric Lichaj started and played 120 minutes in the 2-1 win over Burnley, and dressed but did not play against Birmingham City.

Tim Howard started, played 90 minutes and picked up his fourth shutout of the year in Everton’s 1-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday—without making a single save.

Marcus Hahnemann dressed but did not play in Wolves’ 3-2 loss to Manchester United in the Carling Cup last Tuesday. He returned to the starting lineup for league play on Saturday, when Wolverhampton upset Manchester City 2-1. He made one save in that one.

Jonathan Spector, poor Jonathan Spector, appears to have fallen down a hole at West Ham. He did not dress for the Hammers’ 3-1 win over Stoke City in the Carling Cup fourth round on Wednesday, and was also in his civvies for West Ham’s tough 1-0 loss to Arsenal in league play on Saturday.

That was the eighth straight league game he’s missed. Can a brother get a loan deal?

You-blow-one-slow-roller-in-a-World-Cup-and-that’s-all-anyone-remembers keeper Robert Green, by the way, had an unbelievable game against Arsenal, standing on his head to keep the Gunners at bay until Alex Song’s stomach-punch winner in the 87th minute. Fabio Capello was in the crowd, too.

At the top of the table, Chelsea got a late header from Branislav Ivanovic to down feisty Blackburn 2-1, and Manchester United blanked Tottenham 2-0 after a controversial, farcical late goal by Nani.

The remaining two games of the week saw Blackpool down nine-man West Brom, 2-1, yesterday, and Newcastle crush Sunderland 5-1 in the Northeast (Tyneside? Tyne-Wear?) Derby on Sunday. Kevin Nolan scored three for the winners.

In other Yanks Abroad news, midfielders Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan both found the net for their clubs this past weekend.

Edu scored on an 18-yard volley in Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Inverness on Saturday.

Kljestan opened the scoring for Anderlecht in the Belgian side’s 2-1 win over Racing Genk on Sunday.

Finally, Jozy Altidore, after scoring in the Copa del Rey in midweek, made his first league appearance for Villareal in some time, playing 19 minutes in the Yellow Submarine’s 1-1 tie with Sporting Gijon on Sunday

U.S.-Brazil Preview

 

It’s a bit of an odd matchup tonight at the catchily named New Meadowlands Stadium.

The 2010 World Cup ended only one month ago, but Brazil is already well into a new national-team cycle, having fired its coach from South Africa and invited a raft of internationally-inexperienced youngsters in to camp for this game.

And the U.S. is … well, what is the U.S. doing, exactly? Bob Bradley’s status as coach is in limbo (though we think the Aston Villa rumors are a stretch), and the team he’s called in for tonight consists of 14 players we just saw in South Africa, several of whom are unlikely to be a part of the team come 2014 (when Brazil hosts the World Cup).

We’re not saying the U.S. should have turned over its ranks and brought in all youngsters—this is Brazil, after all, and just because the roster is young doesn’t mean it’s not completely stacked with talent.

No, we’re saying the timing and circumstances of this game are just a little off-kilter.

Still, there will be more than 65,000 in the stands, a great atmosphere, and some young players up to prove they can play for their national team.

Here are five to check out (club team in parentheses):

Neymar (Santos): We saw him play against the Red Bulls in March, and despite a subdued overall performance, he showed some flashes of the form that produced 14 goals in 19 games for his club last season, and prompted both Pelé and Ronaldo to press Dunga to include the 18-year-old on his World Cup roster. Dunga declined, and Neymar will be eager to prove that was a mistake. Much like…

Alexandre Pato (AC Milan): The 20-year-old already has 77 appearances and 36 goals for the Serie A giants, yet Dunga chose not to include him for South Africa 2010. Kind of incredible, really.

Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht): The 24-year-old Huntington Beach, California, native is still inexplicably rocking the Rupert Pupkin ’stache (see top), but he’s off to a good start in Belgium, and his girl, Entourage’s Jamie Lee Darley, doesn’t seem to mind, so maybe it’s working for him. Kljestan was one of the last U.S. players cut before South Africa 2010, and he got red-carded the last time he faced Brazil (in the 2009 Confederations Cup), so this is a big game for him.

Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro): The two-time Hermann Trophy nominee out of Boston College narrowly missed out on a trip to South Africa (DaMarcus Beasley nabbed his spot), but is a solid bet to make Brazil 2014. That quest starts tonight.

Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy): He was only called in for this game after Columbus’s Chad Marshall withdrew with an injury, so he won’t be starting, but it would be interesting to see what the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year can do against the world’s best. Hopefully he gets a run. The 6’ 5” 21-year-old is probably the future at centerback for the U.S., and after South Africa 2010 (see first two questions here), that future can’t get here soon enough.

Sacha Kljestan Scores Golazo, Debuts ‘King of Comedy’ Mustache: MLS Week 5 Wrap

The game of the week from MLS Week 5 was the Chivas USA-San Jose Earthquakes tilt at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night.

The Goats took it 3-2, halting the Quakes’ two-game winning streak, and the match had a little bit of everything—four great goals, a budding Name Hall of Fame candidate in Chivas USA’s Chukwudi Chijindu, and a referee, Edvin Jurisevic, who looked like Thom Yorke.

It also had Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan getting +2 for a great overall performance and an excellent goal, and -1 for having a mustache like Rupert Pupkin’s.

Here are the highights:

On to the other games:

RBNY 2, Philadelphia 1: We attended this one, and when we stepped off the train into a steady procession of chanting, singing, insult-slinging Union fans, we thought, All right, there’s going to be some atmosphere today.

Not quite: the Union fans were herded into the upper deck, which they had pretty much to themselves, and it turned out there were only a few hundred of them.

Total attendance was just over 15,000, and while the crowd was lively, it should have been bigger, especially when you consider that it was 68 degrees and sunny at kickoff.

In any case, RBNY won the game, thanks to a 67th-minute handball in the box by the Union’s Michael Orozco. It was the second straight week that the Red Bulls scored a winning goal from the spot (both by Juan Pablo Angel).

They are now 4-1, and one win away from equaling their victory total from last season—yet they’re still not dominating games.

On the plus side, new forward Salou Ibrahim got his first goal, and new winger Brian Nielsen, whose paperwork was finalized the day before the game, got the start and showed some promise. He nearly set up a goal on his first sequence with the team, stripping a Union player, getting sprung down the left and sending in a dangerous cross. Watch the highlights here.

Columbus 1, Real Salt Lake 0: Guillermo Barros Schelotto buried a penalty to pip the defending champs—who are 1-3-1 out of the gate in 2010—in front of 14, 322 at Crew Stadium.

Colorado 2, New England 1: This one, played in front of a paltry 8,142 at Gillette Stadium, put up a strong challenge to the Chivas-San Jose matchup for game of the week: Three great goals, including a 73rd-minute rocket of a winner from Pablo Matroeni.

Also: Colorado’s new Man City–style unis, decent target-forward work from Conor Casey, and a bicycle kick off the bar by Mehdi Ballouchy. Click here for the highlights.

Chicago 2, Houston 0: A chippy one in front of 11,312 at foggy Toyota Park. There were 10 yellow cards and two reds—all in the second half—and sadly, a season-ending injury to Dynamo midfielder Geoff Cameron, who tore his right PCL. Baggio Husidic and Peter Lowry got the goals. Highlights here

Kansas City 0, Los Angeles 0: White-hot Galaxy forward Edson Buddle was held scoreless, and so was Kansas City’s Kei Kamara, despite being presented with the Mother of All Sitters in the 16th minute. Kamara somehow whiffed at the ball as it bounced softly on the LA goal line. Watch it here. Attendance: 10,045.

Toronto 2, Seattle 0: Dwayne De Rosario had a goal and an assist to lead Toronto to its second win of the year and pick up the MLS Player of the Week award. A typically healthy crowd of 18,392 turned up at BMO Field.