When Sasha Klestan returned home from the last Galaktika away game, he was greeted by a drawing made by his daughter, in which her father was preparing to take a penalty.
In the picture, 7-year-old Vera portrayed a muscular Kliestan towering over an 8-foot-high gate. It’s not so much a lack of perspective as it is an accurate portrayal of the important role the veteran midfielder has taken on as a player-coach in his team’s quest for a playoff runner-up in five years.
“He’s very important to us,” said coach Greg Vanni.
On Saturday night, Cleestan and Galaxy were back on track, rallying after two goals in the first half and scoring a 2-2 draw with Dallas at the half-empty Dignity Health Sports.
Second-half substitute Sebastian Lletgett scored a goal in the 83rd minute, giving Galaktika what it takes to remain fifth in the Western Conference standings.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was tortured all night, scored Galaktika’s first goal from a penalty spot in the 65th minute, his 14th of the season.
Jesús Ferreira and Franco Jara have scored for Dallas.
The draw extended Galaktika’s unbeaten streak to four games and was four points ahead of eighth-ranked Real Salt Lake. The top seven teams qualify in the postseason.
If the Galaxy (13-11-7) hopes to defend this advantage, Kliestan’s veteran leadership will be essential.
“He understands how we want to play. He understands what I’m asking [from] guys. He understands how to organize the people in the game, ”said Vanni, whose next team games will be away games against Kansas City and Seattle, two of the best teams in the conference.
Klestan arrived Saturday with Galaxy chasing the game in the 69th minute, making the 307th appearance in his MLS career, nearly 100 more than anyone else on the Galaxy roster. This was also the 15th bench appearance. And he immediately lit a spark.
“You get to a point in your career when it’s not always about you. Now it’s about the team and what you have to do to contribute to the success of the team, ”Vanni said.
“He is clearly in this space, and he knows it. And he was the most selfless guy I’ve ever been with. “
May be. But 36-year-old Kleestan also wants something for himself, namely a place in the playoffs and a chance for his first MLS title.
“We’re in a good position right now, but we’re not guaranteed to make the playoffs yet,” he said ahead of Saturday’s game. “Every game counts. Every point counts. Every goal is important now. ”
“I just feel like when I’m on the pitch, I can still make a difference,” he continued.
“Whether it’s an attacking third or just an organizer and communicator. Now is the time of the season when the coach needs to find guys he can really rely on. And I think he can depend on me. “
But Klistan, who grew up in Huntington Beach and was the son of a Bosnian Serb father who once played professionally in Sarajevo, knows that after 12 years in the MLS and five seasons in Belgium, he is much closer to the end of his career than to the beginning. …
So, he has already started work on his Category B coaching license, because if asked to coach, he can get paid for it.
“I’m definitely going to stay in football, 100%. This is my life. This is what I know, ”he said.
“It would be nice if by the end we had some kind of player-coach role. I hope the Galaxy will help me with this. “
Another chance in the playoffs would also be nice.