Even before he broke their hearts with a goal in the 73rd minute, sending them home with a rare loss, Sacha Kljestan could already hear the boos from the crowd at Red Bull Arena.
Those boos rained down even heavier when his shot hit the back of the net for his first goal against his former club, where he played from 2015-2017, winning a Supporters' Shield in 2015.
“Fair enough, they paid their money to come here and support their team and obviously they weren’t happy that I scored,” Kljestan said postgame. “What I’ll say is that from my standpoint, when I played for the Red Bulls, I loved playing here. I gave everything I had every day to make this a winning club and I enjoyed every moment of it.
“I think some of the fans hold a little against me because I missed a couple of penalties in big moments for this club and that’s part of football. And that part sucks. It sucks that I missed those plays in big moments and I wasn’t able to carry this team to MLS Cup.”
Kljestan was referencing his penalty kick that was saved in a 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Impact during the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. That second-leg result eliminated RBNY from postseason contention. He also had a spot kick stopped in the first leg of a 2017 Concacaf Champions League series against the Vancouver Whitecaps that saw RBNY eliminated 3-1 on aggregate.
At Red Bull Arena, Kljestan's goal gave Orlando City the club’s first win of the season after a stumbling start to their campaign. They experienced a deflating 3-1 home loss against Montreal in Week 3 which felt like deja-vu after a 2018 season that saw the Lions finish in last place in the Eastern Conference.
The 33-year-old veteran is not apologizing for the goal, but he does want his former fans to know that he appreciated his time in New York.
“I just hope they [the RBNY supporters] know I gave everything I had when I played for this club and I loved every minute of it.”