After just two games with his new team, Sebastian Lletget has clearly established himself with FC Dallas, starting both games and contributing two assists. This week, we’ll look at what fans should expect from Lletget as the 2022 season comes down to the wire.
Forward runs in the final third
In his two games played so far for FC Dallas, what has been most noticeable from Lletget has been his regular runs forward in the final third. Matt Doyle from MLSSoccer.com beat me to the punch in making this point in his weekly roundup of MLS action for the league website, but the point is worth repeating. Lletget’s two assists against San Jose are emblematic of this willingness to get forward and pop up in dangerous spots in the final third. All due respect to Paxton Pomykal (who I am very excited to see play alongside Lletget), Brandon Servania and Tsiki Ntsabeleng, but the FC Dallas 8’s have simply not popped up in enough dangerous positions in the final third all season long. It is part of why the trio have only combined for 3 goals and 5 assists all season long. In addition to just making the runs, Lletget has a great soccer brain and, especially against San Jose, did a fantastic job of finding space and combining with the forward line of Jesus Ferreira, Alan Velasco and Paul Arriola. Velasco, in particular, wants to come inside and create dangerous chances and Lletget’s ability to read those situations and position himself well will be crucial going forward for FCD. With this return after just a week and a half with the team, it will be very fun to see what all of this looks like by the end of the season.
High work rate
With FC Dallas, Lletget is playing a different kind of role than he has played most recently in MLS. Often cast as a winger or wide midfielder in New England or later in his time with the Galaxy, Lletget looks to be locked in to one of the two 8 positions for FCD, a position that demands a high work rate. Maybe I was wrong to be a little surprised, but the extent of the level of Lletget’s work rate caught me off guard a bit, put under the microscope by FCD’s lack of possession time against the Earthquakes and Timbers. Lletget covers a lot of ground from the 8 position and puts in a lot of solid defensive work. With how the 8’s have played throughout the season, I had a slight amount of concern about an older player with more time on his legs being able to do the amount of running the position required in the heat week in and week out, but Lletget doesn’t look to be having any kind of issues dealing with the workload a 29 (he’ll be 30 in September) year old. This is even more of a reason why, and all due respect again to Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Brandon Servania, I am extremely excited to see Lletget and Pomykal play together. I’d hate to be a part of any midfield tasked with dealing with those two.
Veteran presence and leadership
FC Dallas are one of the youngest squads in the league, with only Matt Hedges, Franco Jara and Jimmy Maurer over the age of 30. Lletget, as previously mentioned, hasn’t hit 30 quite yet, but his signing adds a great deal of veteran leadership and MLS experience to a team that was lacking in both areas. Lletget is also bilingual, allowing him to easily communicate with both the English and Spanish speakers on the team. This was something that former FCD coach Oscar Pareja regularly mentioned was a big asset with former FCD player and homegrown Victor Ulloa. Locker rooms with language differences will naturally end up splitting up into multiple “camps” based on who can most easily communicate with one another, and having players who are able to bridge those gaps is a big part of team chemistry. It is at least one part of why Paul Arriola was brought into the club in the offseason and Lletget adds to that in a big way. As cliché as it can be, the idea of “intangibles” is always an important part of professional sports and Lletget brings them in spades. Watch for Lletget’s leadership qualities as the season comes to a close and also into 2023.
How are you feeling about FC Dallas’ newest player after his first two games? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Reuters