Though he has never visited Boston, US national team midfielder Sebastian Lletget believes he was destined to play for the Revolution, thanks to Bruce Arena.
“It’s kind of a full-circle moment,” Lletget said Thursday. “He’s the one that brought me to the LA Galaxy, he gave me my first cap on the national team, and now circling back with him in New England. I just think it’s set up to be something great, you know. Of course, there’s going to be challenges along the way, bumps on the road. It’s hard to tell what the future will hold, but I hope we lift up some silverware, and that’s my goal. You know, I want to win and I haven’t been able to do that at the Galaxy for one reason or another but I think this is going to be the challenge I’m looking for.”
The Revolution acquired Lletget from the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for $500,000 in allocation money, the price increasing to $1.3 million with incentives. Lletget’s salary is listed at $923,000.
During a Zoom call conducted in English and Spanish, Lletget said he talked about the move to the Revolution with his family and fiancee, who is Los Angeles-based actress/singer Becky G.
“It was not an easy decision to leave a great club like the Galaxy,” Lletget said. “It was never going to be easy. But I felt inside it was time. I talked with my novia (fiancee), my family, my people. When New England showed interest to buy me and give me a chance to play, I was very happy. And when everything was finally concluded, when I knew I was going to be a New England player, I was glad. It’s going to be a big difference, different than LA, a different energy. But I’m happy for the new challenge.”
Lletget. 29, made his MLS debut under Arena with the Galaxy in 2015, scoring seven goals in 20 games. Lletget totaled 23 goals in seven seasons with the Galaxy, performing alongside stars such as Giovani Dos Santos, Steven Gerard, Chicharito Hernandez, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Robbie Keane. With the Revolution, Lletget will be reunited from former Galaxy teammates Emmanuel Boateng and A.J. DeLaGarza, plus goalkeeper Matt Turner, a US teammate.
“You know, it’s been disappointing for a couple years now,” Lletget said of the Galaxy. “I take full responsibility for my part in that. It’s been rough but I think it’s time for a new challenge. And I think with everything New England has built, especially the last two years and especially last year, it has been amazing to see. And speaking with Bruce – and what’s special with him is how he can get players to just understand their roles and how clear he makes it, it simplifies things for players and it just helps you execute – and so that’s what I’m hoping to do with New England.”
Arena coached the Galaxy to MLS Cup titles in 2011, ‘12, and ‘14, then left to guide the US in World Cup qualifying in 2017. Arena joined the Revolution as sporting director/head coach in 2019, last year setting a record with a 22-5-7 (73 points) mark. The Galaxy has failed to qualify for the playoffs three of the last four seasons.
“With Bruce, I don’t know how he does it,” Lletget said. “He has this secret sauce about him as far as just managing groups, managing players as individuals. Since day one, since he signed me with the Galaxy, I could definitely understand right away why he’s had so much success. And the fact that he’s proven it again and again. And now coming to a new club, especially after the national team and stuff like that, it just proves everything that we all thought about him. My experience has always been great and I’ve always been grateful for him giving me that first opportunity.
“I’ve always been an attacking central midfielder. That was part of some issues that I had at my previous club, that I bounced around from position to position, and I’ve never been given that chance to master one position. I think that’s one of the biggest conversations that I’ve had with Bruce is, ‘Is that the type of role that I can play on this team?’ and his answer was, ‘Yes.’ That’s kind of what he was already thinking. We definitely saw eye to eye on that.”
Lletget, of Argentinian heritage, grew up in South San Francisco, playing for Sporting Santa Clara before moving to West Ham United as a 16-year-old in 2009. Lletget will arrive in Boston for the first time when the Revolution report to training camp next month.
“I’ve actually never been to Boston, which is super funny,” Lletget said. “I’ve always missed that game and never understood why. It’s kind of weird. It’s going to be new and fresh for me, so it’s exciting. This is not one bit negative on any part. This is going to be an awesome experience.”
Matt Turner and Henry Kessler could be US starters
Turner and Revolution defender Henry Kessler are candidates to start for the US against Bosnia & Herzegovina in Carson, Calif., on Saturday.
Turner has compiled a 9-1-2 record (eight shutouts) with the US. Turner was named goalkeeper of the tournament as the Revolution won the Gold Cup last summer, and started the first five World Cup qualifiers this year.
Kessler made his international debut as a substitute for Matthew Hoppe as the US took a 1-0 overtime win over Mexico in the Gold Cup title game in August.
Coach Gregg Berhalter has called up a young team, including six defenders who have yet to play for the US.
“I think I’m pretty good on the ball and it’s an attribute that fits the team,” Kessler said. “We’re definitely a high-pressing team, trying to go whenever we can and put pressure on the opponent. So if that means getting our [back] line up, that’s no problem. I think all the guys here can handle covering space behind us, so I think on both those fronts I’m apt for this team.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.