Carson, CA. – Sebastian Lletget understandably is a little more eager than usual for the LA Galaxy’s regular-season opener on Sunday against the Portland Timbers at StubHub Center.
After all, it’s been a year since the 25-year-old midfielder donned a jersey for the five-time MLS Cup champions. Lletget was limited to only three appearances for the Galaxy in 2017 after he injured his left foot during his first appearance with the U.S. national team last March 24.
Lletget, who said he still has a lump just above his left instep from subsequent surgery, had played no more than 15 minutes – and scored his first international goal, no less – in a World Cup qualifier at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium when he was brought down by Honduran defender Ever Alvarado.
Lletget said he thinks he’s “really close’’ to getting back to his old self on the field.
“I think my sharpness is there,” he told reporters. “I think it’s going to take a little while to get that 90-minute plus sort of fitness.
“I’m just super-excited. I’m happy to just be part of things right now.”
He said he barely can remember his last regular-season appearance – it was last March 8, when he went 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake – but the 2017 season remains vivid in his memory.
And that’s not necessarily a good thing. He said he found it difficult to watch as the Galaxy struggled to a franchise-worst 8-18-8 record, changed coaches (Sigi Schmid in place of Curt Onalfo) and then undertook a substantial roster overhaul.
“It was tough,” he said. “I felt helpless more than anything. But we just have to put it behind us and move forward.”
One member of the Galaxy who particularly enjoyed keeping track of the just-concluded Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea was Ola Kamara.
The 28-year-old striker and a native of Oslo, Norway, acquired in an off-season trade with the Columbus Crew, said he got a little inspired by the antics of the Norwegian team that set a Winter Olympics record with 39 medals, including 14 gold.
“It’s fantastic what the athletes did,” he said. “I watched (the Games) a lot.”
Kamara revealed he was a fairly proficient downhill skier until he was 13, when he had to choose between pursuing a career in winter sports or soccer. He chose the latter.
“I was good in the Super G,” he said of the racing discipline. “Not cross-country skiing. That’s more of a hobby.”
Kamara also said he was relieved to receive his green card. He had to fly to Stockholm, Sweden following last Sunday’s preseason finale against the Vancouver Whitecaps to finish the process and said the travel (a combined 30 hours in flying time) didn’t bother him.
“I’m a little bit used to it,” he said. “Last year (with the Crew) we played New York, went back to Columbus and then I went to an international game in Slovenia or wherever it was, then back again to Toronto.
“You get used to it.”
THAT’S MAJOR, NOT MINOR, LEAGUE SOCCER
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid had plenty to say regarding the ongoing criticism some members of the Hispanic media have toward MLS, which they consider to be an inferior league.
“Is MLS comparable to the (English) Premiership, the top teams in the Premiership, the top teams in France or Germany? Probably not,” he responded. “Is MLS comparable to Real Sociedad? Is MLS comparable to Villarreal? I think it is. I think sometimes that becomes a mystique.
“Players get out of a situation what they get, what they put in. I was a college coach (at UCLA) and people would say, ‘Oh, this is a really good college. You’ll get a good education.’ You get out of an education what you put into it. You can get a good education at any school if I put the effort into it. And I can maintain myself at a high level as a player if I put that effort into it.
“Personally,” he went on, “playing in the (UEFA) Champions League in Europe, those are special situations that we don’t have here yet in our country.
“To say that alone” – regarding the criticism – “is too simplistic.”