TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Retirement
Sacha Kljestan, one of the most prolific creative midfielders ever to play in Major League Soccer, has announced his retirement after a legendary 17-year career.
Eighth all-time in MLS history for regular-season assists with 99, the 37-year-old is stepping away from the sport to begin "the next chapter in my life," he wrote Thursday in a heartfelt farewell message.
"If you know me, you know this day is emotional and difficult because of my deep love for the game," Kljestan said on his official Twitter page.
" … Thank you soccer for taking me all over the world. Because of you I met and made friends from all different walks of life and all different parts of the world."
Kljestan's remarkable journey began at Chivas USA, who drafted him fifth overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. Over a four-year period with the now-defunct franchise, the California native emerged as one of the league's premier playmakers, earning his first USMNT call-up in 2007 and making a move to Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht in 2010.
He spent five years with the Purple & White, scoring 25 goals and adding 21 assists over 180 total appearances – including the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. There was plenty of domestic success as well, as he won three Belgian Pro League titles and four Belgian Super Cups during his time in Europe.
Kljestan returned to MLS in 2015, signing with the New York Red Bulls and immediately helping them win the Supporters' Shield that same year. After three seasons in the Big Apple, which saw him serve as club captain in his final campaign, he was traded to Orlando City SC in 2018.
He would also wear the armband for the Lions at times during his two-year stint in Florida before signing with his final club, the LA Galaxy, ahead of the 2020 season. Kljestan was a solid contributor during his three years in Los Angeles, although he was limited to just one start and 20 substitute appearances, while registering 1g/2a, during the 2022 season.
A two-time MLS Best XI selection (2008, 2016) and MLS All-Star in 2016, Kljestan tallied 46 goals and 103 assists over 348 regular-season and Audi MLS Cup Playoff games.
Internationally, he scored six goals in 52 appearances with the USMNT and also represented his country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. His four assists during the 2010 World Cup qualifying cycle helped the US reach that year's tournament in South Africa, although he didn't make the final 23-man squad. He also provided two goals and two assists during qualifiers for Russia 2018.
"I lived my dream for 17 years," Kljestan said.
READ MORE: MLS Transfer Tracker presented by Avant