With the New York Red Bulls for presumably the final stage of his career, American Sacha Kljestan is one of the best central midfielders in the entire MLS.
Logging over 150 appearances over five years for Anderlecht in Belgium, including 14 Champions League games, before he was transferred to the MLS, Kljestan is known for his creativity and superb passing ability.
He’s was also a member of the US national team for many years and had 46 caps and four goals for the team, including on the 2009 Confederations Cup roster and the 2010 World Cup preliminary roster.
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So far this season, he started both games for the Red Bulls and played all 180 minutes, posting an assist, three shots and a shot on goal thus far.
However, he made the highlight reel for another reason on Thursday. And it had nothing to do with soccer.
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Check out the video below.
That was a 47-yard attempt. As you can see, he knocked it through the uprights with some authority. It’s no wonder why he offered his kicking services to the Jets. After all, he’s right down the road and the kick was taken in the Jets’ facility.
That solves the question once and for all: pro soccer players could definitely be NFL kickers if they switched sports. But, while the kick was certainly nice, it doesn’t compare to the best recent moment featuring a soccer player on an NFL practice field.
If you recall, United States women’s national team member Carli Lloyd challenged nose tackle (and 350-pounder) Vince Wilfork to a field goal kicking challenge when the team was featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” back in 2015.
The teammate reactions of Wilfork’s unexpected success was clearly the best part of the video, but Lloyd impressively booted a few field goals and looked comfortable doing so. On each attempt, she lined up, put on her game face and struck the ball on the sweet spot.
One NFL kicker famously got his start on the pitch. Cairo Santos, the first-ever Brazilian-born NFL player, grew up as a soccer player but then taught himself how to kick a football. After impressive seasons at Tulane University, he was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. Since then, he's converted 84.3 percent of his field goal attempts and went 31-for-35 last season. He's regarded as one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL.
The only logical outcome based on the videos above is to have Kljestan and Lloyd battle to see who the best soccer-playing NFL kicker would be. Maybe Santos could be the referee.
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