CHULA VISTA, Calif. — When Sebastian Lletget was called up to the US men's national team almost exactly two years ago, during 2017’s January camp, he hoped it signaled the beginning of a long career playing for his country.
What the now 26-year-old midfielder couldn’t have imagined was how in only five international appearances during the ensuing 24 months, he would manage to score a goal in the USMNT’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, suffer a career-threatening foot injury in the same game (a March 2017 contest against Honduras), and be called into camps under the leadership of not one or two, but now three different national-team coaches.
“Yeah, that’s crazy,” Lletget said after US training at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center on Tuesday. “But I think the future’s bright for Gregg [Berhalter].”
What makes him feel like this time may be different for both player and coach?
Sebastian Lletget in action during the 2017 January camp | USA Today Sports Images
“The energy about the group is good,” said the LA Galaxy midfielder. “It’s only the second day, but they’ve done so much implementing a certain style of play and getting the group together.”
For Lletget, that style of play Berhalter has introduced to the group and presented to the media — “an attacking based team that wants to creates goalscoring opportunities by disorganizing the opponent” — piqued his interest.
“That’s exactly what I told coach when I got here and I spoke to him,” Lletget said. “I’m super excited about the unique approach, because I’ve never had the chance to learn it in this way and into this much detail, to master my position and sort of really help me to see myself on the field in this team.”
Berhalter’s appointment isn’t the only coaching change in Lletget’s football world: MLS vet and former Boca Juniors coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto was recently unveiled as the new Galaxy boss — the Southern California side’s fifth head coach since the midfielder joined the team in 2015.
“It was tough to adapt, for everybody,” said Lletget of the Galaxy’s 2018 campaign, where they narrowly missed out on the playoffs for a second straight year after suffering a gut-wrenching comeback loss to the Houston Dynamo at home on the last day of the season. "It was no coincidence why we were where we were, I guess. Looking forward, I think things are going to change and everybody’s going to be on the same page.”
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Though Lletget has yet to speak with his club’s new manager, he’s excited to share an Argentinean background with Schelotto, even if they support rival Buenos Aires clubs.
“I’m excited to see how he is. I’ve only heard good things. I know he comes from the opposite of what I grew with, which is Boca,” Lletget said of Schelotto, laughing off the possibility that those conflicting Argentine loyalties could be a problem in SoCal. “I’ve always been a River [Plate] fan.”
More than anything, the Galaxy’s sole USMNT January camp participant is excited for the possibility to make strides on both squads – with both new coaches – after fully recovering from his lengthy injury spell in 2017 and putting in nearly 30 starts for his club across all competitions last year.
“The future is bright on Galaxy and the US,” Lletget added.