"Athletes and coaches jobs are to have short memories." - Bruce Arena after the #LAGalaxy's 4-2 defeat. He adds that LA "didn't play badly"— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) September 25, 2016
Bruce is actually right. LA didn’t play that badly. Had Giovani dos Santos put away his breakaway attempt in the 33rd minute of yesterday’s blowout loss to the Sounders, the Galaxy probably walk away with all three points, possibly big.
A major reason for the resurgence of LA’s offense as of late has been the play of Sebastian Lletget, who since his move to a central midfield position has brought much needed energy and purpose to a stale Galaxy attack.
A natural attacking midfielder bred as a No. 10 by the great Gianfranco Zola during his brief spell of success at West Ham, Lletget has eased alongside Jeff Larentowicz in a 4-2-3-1 formation and the attack has blossomed: Over the past five games, Lletget has recorded four assists and the Galaxy have scored 13 times. (Prior to that, LA had only managed 13 goals in their past 14 games)
Considering Lletget is operating as a central defensive midfielder, the San Francisco native was all over the field on Saturday, connecting passes, creating plays and generally causing havoc on the Sounders’ end of the pitch. His assist for LA’s opener was a thing of beauty, checking into the ball already knowing where Robbie Keane was before dinking a perfect cross for the Galaxy campaign to smash home.
Let’s not forgot that Lletget can defend too. The notoriously muscly Instagram aficionado is built like a tank, and his relatively low center of gravity allows him to challenge opponents with that significant strength of his. He’s one of those players attackers would prefer to avoid rather than try and dribble around, and that’s just one of the little intangibles he brings to the squad.
Lletget is in a rich vein of form, and its hard to argue the Galaxy aren’t a better team with him on the field. He needs to stay put.
And that means someone has to sit in his place, and right now that someone is looking like the 6 million dollar man, Steven Gerrard.
Not that Gerrard has played poorly. Despite limited playing time, Stevie G has produced with 11 assists this season. This shouldn’t be perceived as a controversial move: The decision is really as simple as one player getting injured and another coming in and finding their form. We saw this earlier in the year when Brian Rowe took over for an injured Dan Kennedy and refused to give up the spot.
The 36-year-old just returned to the field yesterday after sitting out a month with a hamstring injury, and the offense wasn’t that great when Gerrard was available. There’s just too little upside trying to insert a player who isn’t 100% fit back into the lineup at this point. Accommodating Gerrard into the lineup by adjusting the formation is probably not an effective solution either.
Perhaps like Landon Donovan, Gerrard’s best use on the field might come as a substitute if the Galaxy need to get something going offensively. But one thing is for certain: Sebastian Lletget needs to stay on the pitch.