Sacha Kljestan - in the tunnel at Red Bull Arena
USA Today Sports

Sacha Kljestan laments lack of "difference makers" at New York Red Bulls

Sacha Kljestan is settling in with his new team, Orlando City SC, and he's excited about the project ahead of him.

Sure, that's something that nearly every player says about his or her new team, but Kljestan's got fascinating context to back up his excitement for 2018.

Speaking on SiriusXM FC's "United States of Soccer" radio show this week, Kljestan explained his motivation to help the Lions reach a milestone they have yet to in their MLS history.

"I don't feel any pressure from the outside, I put pressure on myself internally about being successful, what kind of legacy I'm going to leave as far as my career went," Kljestan explained to Sirius XM FC's Jason Davis. "So far I've made the playoffs every year and I'm coming to a team that has not achieved well in their first three years and we're going to make the playoffs, is the goal this year. I hope to continue that trend."

While Kljestan hasn't spoken up as much about his controversial trade from the New York Red Bulls this offseason as the last captain who was also traded away by the Red Bulls, Dax McCarty, the two-time MLS season assist leader admitted the move was hard on him and his family, and that he was disappointed to be deemed expendable by his former team.

"It's never easy to be told you're no longer wanted at a club, especially a club that you gave a lot for and were extremely successful for over a short period of time," Kljestan said. "You always want to feel wanted. So the second I found out they wanted to get rid of me, I was dusting my hands of it and getting ready for the next step and the next challenge in my career. Unfortunately it's a long process and it took a lot of time before the deal with Orlando went through. So it was a very hard offseason emotionally for me and my wife."

The 32-year-old did indicate he was also unsatisfied with the direction of New York's roster building prior to his departure, contrasting it to the project of bolstering Orlando City's roster this offseason.

"It's great for me to see as a player, to get as much help around me as possible. So adding guys like Justin Meram and Uri Rosell [who] are going to be big pieces of the team this season, I think.

"This is something I've wanted in my career, I think we lacked that at the Red Bulls, of getting guys that would be difference makers and add to the pieces you already have. I'm excited we have that [in Orlando]."

The Red Bulls, who this offseason reiterated their strategy to build from within and signed a number of players from their academy and USL team, have been heavily linked with a multi-million dollar move for Argentine playmaker Alejandro 'Kaku' Romero Gamarra. They also paid a reported $2.2 million transfer fee for attacker Gonzalo Veron in August 2015, though the speedy forward made a minimal impact in 2 1/2 seasons with the Red Bulls before parting ways with the team at the end of 2017.

Orlando City SC open the 2018 MLS regular season at home on March 3 against D.C. United (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE).

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