Lletget ready to take next step in development

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photo by John Dorton/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

SARASOTA, Fla. – Sebastian Lletget hasn't had the easiest of times since signing with West Ham United on his 18th birthday, but things are starting to look up for the U.S. Under-23 men's national team midfielder.

After a rough first season in England which was plagued by pesky injuries, Lletget is beginning to find his stride at both the club and international level. The 19-year old has been called into both U.S. U-23 team camps since Caleb Porter was appointed head coach, and Lletget believes he is on the brink of taking the next step in his development by dressing for the Hammers for the first time in his career.

"I've been there a while and things are coming around," said Lletget, who prefers his last name to be pronounced leh-JET. "I just have got to make one last step before I make myself an established professional.

"I believe I'm ready. I've been working really hard these past six months since preseason, and I think I'll get my chance."

A San Francisco native born to Argentine parents, Lletget has recovered from the multiple muscular injuries which hampered his chances of breaking into West Ham's lineup last campaign. Add in the fact the Hammers are now playing in the Championship instead of the Premiership, and Lletget's chances of playing have increased over the past year.

As much as those are reasons as to why Lletget could soon see the field, what if he doesn't? What if he remains a spectator for the club? Would a loan be in the works for Lletget?

"To be honest, I truly believe that it will happen," said Lletget of his chances of breaking into the club's rotation of players. "I'm patient and at the moment my future is at West Ham. That's all I'm concentrated on."

With a clean slate of health, Lletget has been able to train regularly with the club. That has translated over to the international level, where he was a regular part of Thomas Rongen's U.S. U-20 men's national team side earlier this year and where he's fighting for a spot on Porter's Olympic qualifying team.

Lletget describes himself as a technical player who relies on his vision and passing to counteract his lack of pace. He believes he is a good fit in Porter's preferred 4-3-3 formation, which focuses on possession and high-pressure defense.

"I really like it. He has that sort of Dutch, more Spanish sort of mentality and philosophy and it suits midfielders such as me and Jared Jeffrey and (Mikkel) Diskerud," said Lletget. "It suits us a lot because we like to play with the ball on the ground and we like to move it quick. When we don't have it, the most important thing is to pressure and that's exactly what (Porter) wants us to do and he really emphasizes it."

Lletget did well in that system during the U.S. U-23 team's second intra-squad scrimmage this past week, serving as an integral part to the White Team's attack by playing atop the midfield triangle.

Lletget misplaced passes on a few occasions, but overall he was very active in helping his team post a 2-0 victory by serving as a primary link between the defense and the attack.

He even scored a late insurance goal in the match when he realized he had space and hit a well-placed shot from just inside the penalty area past a helpless Zac MacMath.

"He's a sweet player, good feet, very nice player," said Porter. "His touch, it fits the way we play. We need guys in the center of the park that are comfortable on the ball, that want the ball, can spray it around and obviously, we need guys that can finish the play, too, in the final third, score goals, create goals."

Lletget will be hoping to continue to make strides in his games to the point where he makes the U.S. U-23 team that will attempt to qualify for the Olympics in March.

Assuming Lletget stays injury-free and makes it the Olympic qualifying roster for the United States, the playmaker is adamant on helping his team avoid a repeat showing of the U-20 side's performance from this past spring, when it failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.

"Obviously we didn't do (well) in Guatemala with the U-20 qualifying for the World Cup, but I recovered from that," said Lletget, who started and went the distance in the decisive 2-1 loss to the tournament hosts in April. "It was a big blow emotionally and I really felt bad because I'm probably not going to see a lot of those teammates that I had, and obviously the coach, Thomas Rongen, he was great but we couldn't do it for him at the end. It was a big blow."

Even with that disappointment, Lletget considers 2011 to be a good year for him and his development. He trained consistently at the club level for the first time in his career, and believes he has learned from even the worst experiences, including the heart-breaking loss to Guatemala.

"I'm glad I have that experience because I know the feeling and I know what I have to do if I get selected when the time comes," said Lletget. "I'll know how to prepare myself mentally. It's very important. It's no joke. It's the Olympics and people's jobs are on the line, but I'm sure we will deliver."

This entry was posted in Americans Abroad, U.S. Men's Olympic Team, U.S. Youth National Teams. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Lletget ready to take next step in development

  1. Award says:

    Lletget has all of the tools to be a very good playmaker. Hopefully he will get some minutes for West Hams first team. Everyone gets to hung up on pace. Xavi doesn’t have a ton of pace, but he has quick feet, great vision, and great field awareness. Wesley Snejder is the same. he doesn’t have a ton of pace either. Nor does Rafael Van der Vart.

  2. b says:

    The bay area is producing some quality midfield prospects, Lletget and Pelosi.

    The most important part of this article is the promonciation of Lletget, I have been wondering about that for years!

    Hopefully he gets a chance with West Ham soon.

  3. maka says:

    West Hamerica.

  4. timothy says:

    It’s kind of funny that I agree the most important part of the article is the correct pronunciation of Lleget’s name

  5. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    I can’t wait to see him break into the first team roster. It will give me a good excuse to watch West Ham games again since Johnny Spector left.

  6. say what says:

    is “leh-JET” legit?

  7. Spitta says:

    JETS…Fool!

  8. futbolisto says:

    Too Lletget! Too Lletget to quit! Apologies to MC Hammer.

  9. JWol says:

    Leh-git

  10. OmarVizquel says:

    What is this “pace” that you speak of….

  11. Scud says:

    How fast you run.

  12. Love Ives says:

    Lletget was in fact born and raised in the United States. We developed him 100% of the way. That’s more gratifying IMO than a player produced by Leverkusen or Dortmund

  13. OmarVizquel says:

    (Yes I know. I was making light of a Eurosnobbism that annoys me…)

  14. Tyler says:

    Where havent we been yet?

  15. wilyboy says:

    It’s great to have a kid with his heritage, under contract with a starting club, and so close to first team action. With any luck, we’ll see him play for the first team soon.

    Ha, that comment works for Terrence Boyd as well.

    Bottom line, there’s a line between supporting your country and being a jingoism spewing, prejudicial tool. These players will make us a better team, and in turn inspire our more “pure” prospects to perform at the same level. Merry Christmas.

  16. Aero1111 says:

    Thank you, blithering on about “pace” instead of speed is only slightly less irritating than the most abominable phrase: the hideous “work rate”.

  17. Award says:

    Hmm, I didn’t know that refering to the article where it blantanly states “pace” means that I am a eurosnob. I know it’s hard for some to have a more diverse vocabulary than others. Speed= pace.

  18. Nick says:

    That comment was pretty extreme…but I too don’t want our national team to be totally dominated by German players…a few to fill in some gaps are okay,but I hope it doesn’t get too out of hand in the future.

  19. Louis Z says:

    so…is PACE = FAST or is it = to QUICK

  20. OC says:

    Does the phrase ‘pace’ really bother people?

    It’s the language of the game, just like the ‘pitch’ is the soccer field and ‘fitness’ is endurance. There’s no point in trying to ‘Americanize’ the terminology the English use if 9/10 of the soccer (this one is different because there are 2 ‘footballs’ in America) we watch is commentated on by English dudes.

    I’m disappointed that the phrase ‘pace’ makes someone a Eurosnob :/

  21. ACS says:

    “Hey Cookie more Picante sauce….Pace Picante Sauce is made in San Antonio…..This stuffs made in New York City…New York City….get a rope”

  22. Louis Z says:

    I don’t mind the word “pace” at all, just want to know exactly its meaning.

  23. BetaMale says:

    The Millwall fan in me is sad he’s a Hammer, but the USA fan in me has been looking forward to his debut for a few years now.

  24. GW says:

    These definitions apply to all sport not just soccer.

    Pace generally refers to speed over x number of yards. Donovan is very pacey as is Findley,EJ, Davies, NFL receivers like Mike Wallace, Ted Ginn, etc.

    Quickness generally refers more to lateral movement over a much shorter distance. Examples would be guys like Messi, Neymar

    NFL players like Ray Rice, Devin Hester,most point guards in the NBA etc.

    What is generally not mentioned is how much these qualities change once the player in question is on the ball and how defenders can minimize a pace and quickness differential with smarter positioning and the effective use of your fellow defenders.

  25. GW says:

    Interesting you feel that way since it seems his time at West Ham seems to be what put him over the top.

    Is he still as good a prospect if he does not move to England? Would any of you even know who he was if not for that?

    “We developed him 100% of the way”

    I very much doubt that.

  26. Peter says:

    Ok would it bother you if we said their 40 time?

  27. MensreaJim says:

    He’s been there a year.

  28. malkin says:

    My god what are you people blabbering about?

  29. BrianVT says:

    Louis Z: I suppose it’s in the ear of the beholder. To me, “pace” has always conjured up the notion of pure top-end speed.

    “Quickness” does not only imply “lateral speed”, but also the ability to change direction, however slightly, in the blink of an eye.

    And, no, the use of the word “pace” does not offend me, a red-white-and-blue ‘Merican. Nor does it conjure up any imagery of Eurosnobbery.

  30. Predicto says:

    I’m impressed with the clear specifics from both Lletget and Porter about the team goals, strategy and what players do well and not. Very nice!

  31. Soccernst says:

    Sporting Santa Clara represent.

  32. MicahK says:

    Did SBI get hacked or something ? This story and the Nyarko story were posted beginning of last week ?

    (SBI-They were re-posted for folks who may not have seen them on Christmas. Not really sure why this is such a crazy concept to you.)

  33. PetedeLA says:

    Just when I thought I had developed a mutant power to predict the future!

    Ives… whassup?!?!

  34. GW says:

    Sports jargon. Brit vs American.

    Brit terms like brace,pace, side, pitch,work rate, leading the line, cross, football, etc. vs Americanism’s like soccer, PK, possess, CAM,thrown under the bus,time of possession, etc.

    That sort of silly stuff.

    A lot of American’s think if you use Brit terms you are being a snob,ignoring the fact that some people started out mostly following the game in England and think those terms are the normal ones.

    But American fans who come later to the game are generally insecure about their soccer knowledge and lash out at the older “snobs” which about normal for such situations.

    It’s all pretty superficial and stupid.

    Just listen to Julie Foudy if you want a primer on US soccer jargon and any Brit game commentary for Brit jargon. Actually, for the Brit stuff it’s better to read on line game reviews from the BBC or the Guardian, Telegraph, Times or Daily Mail.

  35. GW says:

    A very important year.

    And will likely be there a while longer.

    Tell me you would have heard of him had he not moved abroad.