CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget had every reason to be in a celebratory mood Saturday night at StubHub Center, having scored his first goal in five months and seemingly giving the five-time MLS Cup champions a win over visiting Minnesota United.
But a funny thing happened en route to the victory column. Minnesota, losers of eight consecutive games on the road, scored in the 84th minute to forge a stunning 2-2 tie in front of a crowd of 24,891 and Lletget understandably was feeling a bit more subdued than usual.
The 25-year-old from San Francisco had entered the game at the start of the second half for Giovani dos Santos, who left with what was announced as a strained left leg and scored in the 73rd minute for a 2-1 lead.
But Minnesota’s Romario Ibarra and the second-year franchise had the last laugh with a goal 11 minutes later and Lletget and his teammates were left wondering what might have been.
“I have to do a job to fill in and hopefully I did that,” he said. “Individually I’m happy I contributed to the team, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Injuries had limited the popular midfielder to 18 games entering Saturday’s matchup and he had just one goal and one assist on the season. But that changed in impressive fashion in the 73rd minute when he dribbled past Minnesota’s Eric Miller into the penalty area and, with no defenders coming out to challenge him, let fly with a left-footed shot from less than 15 yards that beat United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
“That’s right. I know,” he said with a smile. “It’s been a rocky road, but hopefully from here on out I think I can finish the season strong and see how high we can go.”
Lletget suffered a sprained right ankle during a 3-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on June 9 and missed the next five matches. Then he subbed on the following two games before starting in a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Aug. 4.
He said now he feels healthy and ready to play some serious minutes. And he could get some, considering dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini (right leg) were lost to injuries Saturday and Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid provided no updates on their status.
“I feel a lot better,” Lletget said. “I feel sharp, my acceleration and everything. Just trying to get back to where I was, and a lot’s happened in between that time.
“I just have to stay positive and keep moving forward.”