The Red Bulls acquired 23-year-old attacker Carlos Rivas and 20-year-old defender Tommy Redding in the deal, which also included New York sending $150,000 in targeted allocation money to Orlando.
It’s the second year in a row the Red Bulls have traded away their captain. Before the 2017 season, they dealt Dax McCarty to Chicago.
Kljestan, 32, joined the Red Bulls before the 2015 season, coming over from RSC Anderlecht in Belgium. In 97 games with New York, he had 16 goals and 51 assists. He is the Red Bulls’ all-time assists leaders.
Kljestan led MLS in assists each of the past two seasons. In 2016, he became just the second player in league history to record 20 assists in a season and was a finalist for MVP.
In 2015, he helped the Red Bulls win the Supporters’ Shield, awarded to the league’s best regular-season team. Last season, New York finished sixth in the Eastern Conference and beat the Chicago Fire in the knockout round of the playoffs before falling to eventual champion Toronto FC in the conference semifinals.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, I’d like to thank Sacha for his three years with the Red Bulls,” New York’s sporting director, Denis Hamlett, said in a news release. “His career here was among the most productive of any player in team history, and he is a true professional on and off the field. We wish Sacha and his family all the best.”
Added Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch: “Sacha has been a massive contributor to our current club culture and team success. Saying goodbye to him is an incredibly difficult thing for all of us. He should be considered a club legend and has left a lasting impression on everyone. We wish him great success in the future and we know that he will always be a big part of this club.”
ESPN reported that Kljestan has signed a new two-year contract with Orlando. He will begin next season serving a two-match suspension after being ejected from the second leg of New York’s playoff loss to Toronto for clashing with Jozy Altidore and stadium security.
The move allows the Red Bulls to get younger and shed some payroll. According to ESPN, Kljestan was expected to make more than $1 million next season and the trade will free up about $500,000 in salary cap space.
Rivas, a native of Colombia who was a young designated player for Orlando City, has registered eight goals and 13 assists in his first three MLS seasons. In 2017, he had five goals and five assists.
“Carlos is an exciting young player that can be a threat on the wing or as a forward,” Hamlett said. “We think he is a natural fit for our team and immediately improves our attacking options.”
Redding, who is from Oviedo, Florida, became Orlando City’s first Homegrown Player in March 2014. The center back has played in 38 games over three seasons. He is a member of the U.S. national under-20 team.
“Tommy is a player that we’ve kept an eye on as we watched him alongside our own Homegrown Players with youth national teams,” Marsch said. “His size and skill line up with what we look for in a central defender and he has demonstrated that he can use both in his MLS opportunities.”