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Lletget overcomes demons in game-changing USMNT performance


For Sebastian Lletget, Saturday’s match against Costa Rica may have been just a friendly, but it was daunting one at that. Not because of the opponents on the other side of the field, but because of the past events he endured at Avaya Stadium.

After a 27-minute cameo off the bench and a goal and assist later, Lletget can now think bright thoughts whenever he graces the field in San Jose. The 26-year-old exorcised his demons with his second career USMNT goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team in their 2-0 friendly win over Los Ticos.

“It’s just a sense of relief, I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment,” Lletget said. “I’m not going to lie, I was [crying], people don’t realize what it is for an athlete when you get injured like that. And then just in this particular stadium I got the goosebumps even training yesterday morning with the team.”

“I had to overcome an injury that put me out for a long time, and getting back to where I am is definitely overwhelming, very emotional, but moving forward I just can’t wait to keep going.”

Almost two years after suffering a serious foot injury with the USMNT, Lletget showed a short memory in his first National Team appearance at Avaya Stadium. His 80th minute header off a beautifully-placed cross by Jonathan Lewis broke the deadlock in a match which looked like it would end scoreless.

Lletget was able to celebrate with his teammates before setting up Paul Arriola for the USMNT’s insurance goal eight minutes later. It was an impressive performance by the LA Galaxy midfielder who is aiming to be a part of Gregg Berhalter’s future plans. Despite the presumed arrival of several European-based players in March’s camp, Lletget is up for the challenge.

“I think for a lot of guys our job is to learn and he’s teaching a style of play that’s not going to come easy to a lot of guys,” Lletget said. “Many of us have never been coached like this, to so much detail, but we appreciate it, especially me. I learned a lot. That’s something I told him after the game, that I learned so much in this camp, and I’ll continue to learn and study the way he wants to play this game and I’m definitely up for it.”

“Moving forward I want to be part of this team and I know what I can do on the field,” Lletget said. “It just took me so long to really get there and be fit. I’m glad I really feel at 100% finally.”

The road ahead for Lletget and many players in this past January’s camp will be a challenging one, especially with MLS ready to kick off in a month’s time. However, after producing a game-changing performance in the USMNT’s second consecutive win, Lletget’s role in the future could increase even slighter.

With Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams, and several other regular expected to return to the fold, Lletget may have to settle for a spot off the bench. But just like he did on Saturday, Lletget has shown he can provide a spark and has given Berhalter another option to consider in the near future.

“From the last time I was here, it’s always going to be different when I step in this building,” Lletget said. “I’m just glad I have another good memory to overcome everything that happened in the past.”

“I couldn’t have written it any better, but this is only the start for me. It’s going to be a great era,” Lletget said. “I have a brand new memory of this place, and every time I come to this place from now on, it’ll be much brighter and much more positive.”


  1. Lletget a difference maker, confident on the ball player who knows how to connect and move off the ball and also works both sides of the ball. he’s as good as any euro based player at his positions. must stay healthy

  2. The thing that struck me about the whole pool was how…re-invigorated the group was.

    They had a scheme. They weren’t always comfortable or polished in it, but they knew how to connect, how to react, what they were trying to accomplish. They repeatedly broke lines and were dangerous pretty much the entire second half. It easily could have been 5-0. They were also connected, organized, and solid on defense.

    They aren’t perfect, but they seem as motivated as they were early in Klinsmann’s tenure, and far more coherent than they’ve been at any time since probably Bob Bradley, who, despite his conservative tactics, definitely had the group on the same page.

    Considering this group was entirely MLS guys and were playing this well, it bodes very well when the European-based guys start getting worked in.

    Early days, but Berhalter’s first two outings were as good as anyone could have asked for. Encouraging.

    • Well said. A couple of things I’d like to add. Lletget belongs, even when the European based players come in. He is very dynamic and is the most offensive minded midfielder I think we have with the exception of Pulisic. He’s not afraid to take anyone on, something that I think was a bit lacking with some of our players who would too often pass back when faced with a defender. To add to what you said, as a team playing together, these last two games out of January camp the team was playing better than I remember any previous January team playing. The opponents may have had something to do with that, but they did face a lot of pressure from CR. Finally, I think some people are overlooking Lewis, who has looked awfully good going forward from LB. He may be another Robinson from Wigan–all speed but lacking in defensive ability–or he could be our potential left back.

      • Lewis was not playing LB.
        You watch the Galaxy much more than me, but wouldn’t you say he looked much better this week than he did last season. I feel like either he finally feels confident again or it was just being away from Galaxy.

      • On the goal, Lewis brought the ball down the left flank before he made the cross to Lletget for the score. I just assumed he was playing LB since he came in only a few minutes before that play. After the game, BTW, Lletget said that he and Lewis had practiced that a number of times. As for Lletget, both Lletget and Zardes went through similar trajectories. Both had broken foot injuries which were so severe that they basically lost a whole season. Then, when they were recovered from their injuries, they were rusty and took a while to get into game shape. Then, they had to overcome Sigi Schmidt’s curious decisions. With Zardes, Sigi played Zardes at RB. With Lletget he got few minutes. In both cases Sigi chose to play both dos Santos brothers, Alessandrini and even Boateng ahead of those two players. Sigi also played Ashley Cole some at defensive mid and Kitchen started most every game at defensive mid. Pontius was often his first choice sub off the bench at midfield.

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