New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan has said that his broken nose won't affect his return to the U.S. national team for Friday's key World Cup qualifying match against Mexico in Columbus.
The 31-year-old broke his nose on Sunday in a clash with Montreal Impact midfielder Marco Donadel during their Eastern Conference semifinal second-leg match and will wear a face mask when the U.S. start off their CONCACAF Hex challenge.
"It's broken in a couple of places," he told MLS Soccer. "It was a pretty bad hit, but I think they're going to build me a mask and I'll be OK. It will be interesting, but I'll get used to it quickly and I'll be ready to go."
Kljestan said this is the first time he has ever broken his nose and just recently was able to breathe through it again. He said he was told it was "a couple of clean little breaks," but is feeling better than he did on Sunday.
"I had never seen so much blood," he said. "The difficult part for me was that the blood was coming down my throat, so they didn't want to let me back on the field until it stopped going down my throat and was just coming out of my nose."
The New York Red Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs with the 2-1 loss to the Impact and Kljestan said he is grateful to have a new focus.
"Yesterday was difficult," he said. "The motivation to get out of bed in the morning and get ready to leave for a trip was difficult. But on the horizon is U.S.-Mexico, which is a huge game.
"So I guess I'm fortunate compared to some of my teammates at the Red Bulls that I get to re-energize myself with a huge game Friday.
"This is obviously one of the bigger games of the year for us. For me, personally, having played here in 2009 and that qualifier where we won 2-0 was always a great moment for me, a special moment. One of my favorite national team games ever. So to be back here with another chance to start the Hex off right, I'm very excited," he said.
"I always try to do my best to get myself back into the national team, so obviously you have these dreams of playing in these types of games," he said.
"I remember watching the CONCACAF Cup at the Rose Bowl and just wishing to be a part of that game. So you always wanted to be a part of it. I've always had the dream and the hope to do it, and I'm very happy to be here and thankful to be back."
Klinsmann's men take Costa Rica on Nov. 15.