CARSON, Calif. – You remember Sebastian Lletget, don’t you?
The LA Galaxy’s former wunderkind had come virtually out of nowhere in 2015 to total seven goals and two assists in 20 appearances and quickly emerged as not only one of Major League Soccer’s top young players but a potential mainstay on the U.S. national team.
Unfortunately, it’s been a long, difficult road to stardom for the Bay Area native. Injuries have dogged the midfielder since that breakout year and he has scored just five goals over the last three seasons. A left foot injury (and subsequent surgery) limited him to just three games in 2017 and an injured right ankle made him an unused sub for five consecutive matches this season before he returned to action in a 2-2 tie with LAFC on July 26.
Don’t look now, but the 25-year-old is at it again with two goals in his last two appearances and his injury woes apparently are behind him.
Lletget admitted the time off actually may have helped him.
“I think I do feel a little bit refreshed,” he said after training as the Galaxy prepared for Saturday’s Western Conference clash in Seattle (1 p.m., ESPN). “It’s weird. Nobody wants to pick up a little injury or miss games or miss any time in training. Maybe I got a little more energy out of it; I got to work on more sharpness than I probably would have.
“We said at the beginning of the season there was a plan but we never really got to see that out because a lot of players got injured and I had to play so many minutes right from the get-go. It probably was too quick for me, but now I think I’ve caught up to speed.
“Hopefully,” he went on, “it’s showing.”
LET’S GO TO THE REPLAY
It was a close call, to say the least, for the Galaxy’s Ola Kamara in Tuesday’s disappointing 2-2 tie with Colorado.
Kamara thought he scored a goal in the 36th minute on a header deep in the penalty area, but Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard managed to keep the ball out of the net with a spectacular diving stop.
Or did he?
There was no VAR (video assistant referee) reversal of the play and Kamara said he was a bit surprised there wasn’t one.
“It’s kind of with the VAR stuff, you think they can see it,” he said. “If it’s a goal they take it back and give you the ball.
“For me, I’m just trying to trust the system. It felt like it was a goal, but also it was hard for me to see (Colorado’s Danny Wilson may have blocked his view of the ball).
“It really doesn’t matter.”
Kamara said he was happy he got a few scoring chances – he later had a goal called back on a correct offside call – but his own personal review of Howard’s save appeared to indicate officials missed something.
“I watched it on tape,” he said, “and it looked like the ball is actually in (the net). His (Howard’s) arm is on the line when I stopped the picture and the ball was behind him.
“For me, I take the positive out of it that I’m getting the chances.”
LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING
It isn’t all doom and gloom for the Galaxy, although it certainly appears that way.
Consecutive ties against Minnesota United and Colorado have helped obscure the fact the five-time MLS Cup champions have points in 11 of their last 12 games (5-1-6) and haven’t lost at home since a 3-2 defeat to FC Dallas on May 30. The Galaxy also are 10-8-7 for 37 points, tied for fourth in the West with Portland and just five points behind first-place FC Dallas and two points behind second-place LAFC and Sporting Kansas City.
Midfielder Chris Pontius admitted some of the recent results have been difficult to stomach.
“The last two were pretty frustrating. They’re ties that feel like losses,” he said of draws against Minnesota and Colorado at StubHub Center. “Games where you say you’re losing 2-0, you come back 2-2 and that tie feels like a win. Like you got something out of it.
“These games feel like dropped points, especially at home, and against teams I thought we should beat. If you look at some of the games before I think we’ve certainly gotten lucky in terms of bounces going our way.
“Now it’s come back to bite us in the butt a little bit.”
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid said he can’t help but bemoan lost opportunities.
“Obviously we didn’t get two wins because we had four leads between the two games,” he said. “We still want to be better than where we’re at. We lost in Colorado (2-1 on Aug. 4), but in our last 12 games, we’ve lost one.
“Obviously we want to continue on that same path. Because we didn’t get wins at home means we have to gather a few more points on the road. As you can see with the league Dallas is in a little bit of a struggle right now. Portland has lost their last two (to D.C. United and Vancouver), I believe.
“Every team goes through a phase like that,” he went on. “It’s important for us not to hit that sort of phase and it’s important for us to continue to work and build and improve ourselves in every game.”