CARSON, Calif. – It was early in the preseason when LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget talked about his eagerness to learn from veteran left back Ashley Cole on their side of the lineup.
Lletget, however, may have to wait a bit longer to benefit from the experience of the former Premier League standout.
The 23-year-old native of San Francisco has been playing as a withdrawn forward the last two games and has proven to be effective in his new position, although head coach Bruce Arena said it probably isn’t his best spot on the field.
“He’s probably a little better suited to be out wide,” Arena said, “but he’s played OK.”
Injuries and international absences have forced Arena to reconfigure his starting XI’s this season, and Lletget clearly has been one of the beneficiaries of the reshuffling.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder’s athleticism has proven to be a boon for the five-time MLS Cup champions – no matter where he plays – and Lletget said he’s quickly gotten the hang of his new role.
“I love it,” he said after training Tuesday. “Honestly, I love playing there.”
Lletget was one of the Galaxy’s most pleasant surprises last season when he joined the club in May following several years spent in West Ham United’s youth system. Lletget wound up starting 17 times in 20 games for the Galaxy in 2015 and scored an impressive seven goals.
When it came time for Arena to seek help up front, Lletget appeared to be a logical choice. And he couldn’t be happier about it.
“Playing there gives me a bit more freedom,” said Lletget, who has started all four of the Galaxy’s games this season. “I still do the work defensively, of course. That’s part of my responsibility. But I’m really enjoying it.
“I’m sure with the injuries and everything, I’ll go back (to midfield). That’s just the way it is. I’m sure I’ll probably be pushed out wide again, but it’s good for myself that I can play there.”
Lletget said he isn’t new to the lineup change.
“More growing up I played there,” he said. “It’s more natural for me, to be honest. But I can play out wide, and that’s fine with me, too.”
Lletget said he was pleasantly surprised when Arena proposed the switch.
“To be honest, I loved it,” Lletget said. “I was more excited than anything because I knew I could do it. It’s a big responsibility. I know I can be that guy and be the link between the striker and the midfield. I’m sure down the line I can see myself playing there.
“I’ll keep trying, trying and trying until I get it right. Nobody can tell me anything different. I know what I need to do and I’ll get it done.”