Sebastian Lletget put his stamp on a game that was crying out for a goal. Will the midfielder find confidence in going forward?
There never have been questions about the skill-set possessed by the LA Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget. It’s how he uses his talent is what matters.
Galaxy head Greg Vanney recently made it a point to encourage his midfielder, now in his seventh MLS season, to adapt a more assertive and attacking role. The 29-year-old apparently took the advice to heart, as evidenced by his goal with only seven minutes remaining in regulation that gave the Galaxy a much-needed, 2-2 tie with visiting FC Dallas on Saturday in front of a Dignity Health Sports Park crowd of 15,136.
The draw, which completed a critical, seven-day stretch in which the Galaxy went 2-0-1, lifted the five-time MLS Cup champions (13-11-7, 46 points) into fifth place and are tied with Portland on points in the Western Conference (Portland holds the first tie-breaker).
“We walk away with seven points this week, and we have two tough games now,” Lletget said, referring to matches at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday and at Seattle on Monday, Nov. 1. “It’s not going to be easy, but I think we can salvage something.”
Lletget certainly could help the Galaxy do that if Sunday’s performance was any indication. Lletget, who came on for Jonathan dos Santos at the start of the second half, was in the right place at the right time in the 83rd minute Saturday. Samuel Grandsir sent a crossing pass into the penalty area, and Lletget redirected it with his right foot into the net past FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer.
“Instead of staying out wide I just had to get in the box,” Lletget said of the play. “I think when me and Chicha (Javier Hernandez) do that or we have numbers in the box … when he drags out a center back and opens up space for me or I do the same for him, whoever’s in there I think it’s something we need to keep building on.
“Things open up.”
Vanney said they definitely will do that if Lletget continues to exhibit a more aggressive attitude on the field.
“We’ve been talking to Seba for the better part of the last week about taking up higher positions, being more goal-dangerous, being more assist dangerous,” he said. “His tendency as a player is he’s outstanding at keeping possession, spinning away, doing all of those things. But as I spoke to him for a while yesterday I want him to not play to his default, which is to keep possession.
“I want him to attack, to create chances and score goals. And if those things aren’t on, then go to your default next. Don’t just go to your default at the beginning. And him breaking the line and running through and taking a chance meant a difference in the game, really.
“That was an aggressive run.”
Vanney admitted he wasn’t sure Lletget would have attempted Saturday’s scoring foray before his recent sessions.
“You can ask him,” Vanney said, “but maybe a week and a half or two weeks ago he doesn’t make it, he sits out a little bit and tries to find the ball at his feet. But this week he’s really tried to emphasize more attacking runs, getting himself higher on the field, all those kinds of things.
“It’s what’s going to make him more influential in matches.”
Lletget said the season might not have gone the way he had planned — Saturday’s goal was his first since mid-May — but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been worthwhile.
“Just trying to find my way a little bit positionally on this team,” he said. “Nevertheless I’ve been enjoying it, which is really fun. I’ve been enjoying the challenge and this is where it really matters.
“I’m happy just to keep looking forward and to the present.”