CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy were in something approaching desperation mode approaching Saturday’s game against Minnesota United, but midfielder Sebastian Lletget wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
Not even a broken nose sustained in last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas could keep the 26-year-old native of San Francisco out of the lineup. He went out and scored his first goal of the season as the five-time MLS Cup champions, playing again without injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, held off previously unbeaten Minnesota 3-2 in front of a Dignity Health Sports Park crowd of 21,177.
Lletget, who played 59 minutes against FC Dallas before suffering the injury, trained last week and briefly gave a protective mask a try during workouts. Anything that might allow him to play.
“It was in bad shape,” he said of his nose, “but I knew I wasn’t going to miss this game. I told the doctors, ‘No chance.’
“I took the risk and that’s what you have to do sometimes. I’ll be fine moving forward … I just have to be a little more careful.”
Lletget left the field momentarily late in the second half – Minnesota scored during his absence – to allow trainers time to stop his nose from bleeding and Lletget returned moments later to score the eventual game-winning goal.
He received a crossing pass from Uriel Antuna, who played brilliantly Saturday, and used his right foot to re-direct the ball past Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone and into the net for a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead in the 81st minute.
Minnesota’s Angelo Rodriguez, however, made it a one-goal game six minutes later, but the Galaxy held on for their second victory of the season in three tries.
“Last season we would have lost those games, and we want to change that this year,” Lletget said. “We stuck it out. OK, they got the second, but we go forward and thankfully we got that insurance goal.”
And thankfully the Galaxy had Lletget, broken nose and all. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder even tried to wear the mask again Saturday, but he discarded it quickly.
“I think it lasted about 15 seconds,” he said with a grin. “I was like, ‘Oh man, I can barely see through this thing. I’m going to have to risk it.’ OK, you can take a blow, but I can take care of it in the off-season or something.
“I tried it in training, but it bothered me. I promised the doctors I was going to try. But I didn’t try too hard,” he went on with a laugh.
Chris Pontius, who also scored Saturday, was impressed with his teammate’s determination under adverse conditions.
“I’m happy for the kid,” he said. “He works his ass off every day, and what a player he is. I’m happy for him.”