San Francisco native Sebastian Lletget is a midfielder on the LA Galaxy in the MLS [Major League Soccer]. He is also a member of the United States Men’s National Team and represents the US at the U-17, U-23, and U-23 levels. Lletget is coming off a recent stint overseas with Team USA as they faced off against Wales and Panama, which they won 6-2. In a game that featured Lletget scoring in the 87th minute, after maneuvering around his defender, he was able to score the third international goal of his career.
In a recent sit down with ONE37pm, the five-year MLS midfielder discussed some of his personal goals that he would like to achieve next season with the Galaxy. Lletget also discusses the charity that he will be working with and being a leader on a young USA Soccer Team during his recent trip overseas. He also recently launched his YouTube Channel.
ONE37pm: You are a first-generation American. Did you feel that there was a lot of pressure to succeed as a child?
Lletget: I think it hit me more when I was older, and I was already starting my career. I think it was then when I felt a little bit of pressure that you cannot fail, and you cannot let your family down. Things like that, which are very necessary things that you should not tell yourself, especially a young man or young girl trying to start their career and follow their dreams. It was a tough time when I was sixteen when I started to feel that pressure, but it was things that I put on myself that were not anything coming directly from my family. Everybody might experience it at different times; it just depends.
ONE37pm: When did you develop a love for soccer?
Lletget: I cannot remember exactly, but my dad is a huge fanatic of soccer, and he put it on me pretty early. Our goal as this generation of soccer players and coaches in this country is to have exposure to people globally about US soccer, but people in the country domestically. Sports like football, baseball, and basketball run the show, and I think we are getting there. The future is promising. It is just going to take some time.
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ONE37pm: You recently returned home after having a successful stint with Team USA Soccer. Can you talk about having the opportunity to represent Team USA Soccer and some of the goals you scored?
Lletget: It was a great trip and the first time in ten months since COVID hit. The last time was the beginning of January that we were all together, and on top of that, there was a brand new group of young guys. I think I was the only one that was based out of the states playing for the MLS. So, it was a unique experience to meet a lot of the young guys that are playing out in Europe. We were all excited to get the chance to wear that jersey again.
After a long time and so much uncertainty, it was an experience, and we played Wales and Panama. I was fortunate enough to get a goal against Panama. These are friendlies, but for us, it is important because it is preparation for next year. Next year there is an opportunity to qualify for a World Cup. We have the Gold Cup, which is a huge tournament. It was definitely a good way to end the year for me.
ONE37pm: The US National team is one of the youngest teams in the world. How do you feel that you have contributed to the team in a leadership role?
Lletget: It was a different experience because, in the last couple of years, I was the person that was in the middle and did not consider myself a veteran of the group. Then this year comes around, and it is a brand new fresh group of players that are now of age or playing at a high level, and they got called up to the national team. I think I was one of the oldest ones there, and I do have experience. I tried to use it by helping them out.
I also tried to learn from them, as well. I know that is an important thing as well because I do not know it all. It is about learning from each other and getting to know the guys. I think that is what I used this camp for, and to catch my bearings with all of them. It was weird, though, being a little bit older, and in sports, it is crazy how time flies.
ONE37pm: You started off the season with the Galaxy having to learn a new position. Can you talk about that transition during that time?
Lletget: I have had a great experience since I signed with the club, and there have been a lot of ups and downs. This year is more on the downside, but that happens in sports. For me, at the beginning of the year, we had high hopes, and I am one of those guys that can play multiple positions, so it is a good thing because it can keep on the field, but sometimes you would rather be an expert at one position, and master that.
Forever reason during my career, I have had a hard time doing that coaches know I have the qualities to play at different positions. In sports today, you must be able to adapt and mentally and physically ready for that. It is something I learned early on in my career.
ONE37pm: What are some of your goals for next season with the Galaxy?
Lletget: Win a championship that is always the end goal. There are always some undecided things at this time in terms of space on how the roster will be filled. For me, I wanted to build on what I was able to accomplish this year.
It was not the best year as a team, but individually I took out a lot of positives, such as things I want to get better at in my game. I think I showed glimpses of that, and I know that I can improve on them.
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ONE37pm: How do you and Becky G manage your relationship when you are both in the spotlight?
Lletget: I think we have done very well; I think we have built a very good foundation for ourselves as a partnership. I think it is important, especially at the beginning of the relationship to set that foundation and we are two individuals trying to support each other, and grow with each other.
However, we do not lose sight that we are both individuals and both want to make each other better. I learned that from her, and she is way ahead of the game. She is 23, but she has the mind of a 40-year-old woman. She is very mature for her age and she has just blown my mind in the way she carries herself.
ONE37pm: You and Becky G have been very outspoken on social justice issues such as Black Lives Matter. Why do you feel the need to lend your voice?
Lletget: As we all know it has been a huge issue not just now, but years and years of this country having a broken system, and I think we have all woken up to it. Many of us must, unfortunately, and I never considered myself a racist or considered myself to hang out with people who have that perspective, but it is still a wake-up call. I have experienced discrimination, but maybe it is for different reasons, but I think people such as brown skin Latinos or dark skin Latinos for many years have experienced some dark times, and currently experiencing dark times.
I think it has been a wake-up call for me as well, because it is a privilege to learn about racism as opposed to experiencing it, and right now, I am just trying to keep educating myself by having conversations with anybody who I can. So, I can keep learning and see what more we can all do. I want to change the world, and that is why I want to put myself in situations where I can keep learning. I believe if we all can do that and I know it is going to take a couple of generations to get there, but I do believe that we will get there.
ONE37pm: How has the MLS handled players kneeling for the National Anthem, compared to other professional leagues like the NBA and the NFL?
Lletget: It probably was not broadcasted all over the place, but I was proud of players of color in our league before the first game back. Came together and stood around the field with shirts that had different messages and it was a powerful message. I was also proud of the National team before the game against Wales. We had our jackets on that read “Be the Change,” and in the back everyone had the options to do what they wanted.
I put “Black Lives Matter,” others put “Antiracist,” while other messages brought attention to the social injustices as well, and nothing was off the table. It was powerful and for the National Anthem, we all stood and locked arms. It showed unity and my hope is that even if it is a small marginal step forward and keeps pushing it into people’s faces to create change.
ONE37pm: How has COVID-19 affected your routine as an athlete?
Lletget: It has been challenging especially in the beginning when I was scared for my life like I think everybody else. I did not think I could put my hand on the table without washing my hands with just that paranoia. There were so many unanswered questions like how the virus could transfer from one person to another.
The biggest thing for me as far as the routine was the league shutting down for three months. We all kept in contact as a club on how we continue to maintain fitness, and they gave us a bunch of ideas. Before I could order a treadmill, and even that was backed up with backorder.
You had to run in the street, we will send you some bands, you had to buy weights, or they would send you some. Usually, as athletes, we have everything that we need at our disposal to get better on the field they provide that. So, going from that environment to now at home and having to be creative to maintain fitness is nuts.
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ONE37pm: What are some of your pre-game routines before taking the field?
Lletget: I love knowing that I got a lot of rest, and I am one of those guys that likes to do things the right way, like a textbook. For example, when to start hydrating during the day, how many electrolytes. I am a little bit eccentric with that stuff, to be honest.
I just love to know when I am on the field. I have done everything I can possibly do to be ready. That could be with anything in an interview, I am always trying to be prepared for everything, and I am even trying to get better at that.
ONE37pm: I heard that you will be launching your YouTube channel. What can fans expect to learn from your platform?
Lletget: I am excited about that, and with the global aspect, I had the opportunity to think about what I wanted to do after my soccer career. What I want to do now with the messages that I want to talk about, and just like everyone else, I want to tell my story. I feel it is unique, like everybody else, and I think it will be fun. It is also out of my comfort zone even though people look at my social media a certain way, but I am kind of different.
I am not exactly what I think, and I am more real now than I ever was, but socially you don’t get a chance to show exactly who you really are, and I think it is an opportunity. I will be talking about things in-depth such as mental health, athletes being put in a box, and I want to break those barrios. I am also still learning on the go, where I want to take it, and having fun with it. The more I do it, the more momentum it will gain, and I hope I will be excited about it.
ONE37pm: How important currently as an athlete to market self-outside your sport of choice?
Lletget: It is huge, and I have been it is something that I have been aware of for a long time, but I think I have only gotten better with time. It is crazy the lack of information athletes have been getting for a while now. Especially with all the resources and the platforms that we could be using, and I am still guilty of not using them enough, and there are some things that we can get into.
Not everyone is into the same things, and there are so many different avenues people can take. Whether that is fashion, photography, mine is mental health. It can also be a charity or different organizations that you work with. You can have so much exposure. It has always blown my mind that athletes have not taken advantage of all the things they have at their disposal.
ONE37pm: Are there any charities that you are currently involved in?
Lletget: I have had a lot of amazing experiences with the LA Galaxy, maybe one-off events, and different things such as visiting kids at hospitals and getting to see what other people are going through. The one organization that I will be working with is Power Soccer, which I was introduced to through the Galaxy, but I felt a true connection, and I was able to relate to the cause.
I think it was when I was injured during the 2017 season, which I was out for a year. I had an opportunity to meet kids and learn about the organization that focuses on anyone that is born with a disability of not being able to walk. There are different types, but they are in these power chairs, and they play soccer. There are two teams that feature five players on both sides at an indoor facility, and it is incredible. And I had some much fun that I wanted to be more involved with the organization.
ONE37pm: You are a fan of both the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Giants. What was it like for you watching the “We Believe Warriors” finally winning three championships in four years, and the Giants years with Barry Bonds to capture the world series in 2010, 2012, and 14?
Lletget: I am proud that I was a Warriors fan before they started winning championships, and I lived in Europe for many years. However, any team that represents San Francisco or The Bay Area I have always supported. I am not shy about it because people are always quick to call people bandwagon fans, but we are a title town now and don’t think about The Bay Area without a lot of championships.
ONE37pm: It was recently reported that Klay Thompson will miss the upcoming NBA season due to another injury setback. Over your career, you have also had challenges with injuries; how were you able to overcome these setbacks?
Lletget: When you go through an injury like Klay’s, it humanizes you because as an athlete, you might have gone most of your life with everything going in the right direction. Then suddenly, something happens to you, and it is hard to get back up from that. It is not only tough physically, but emotionally as well with rehab and all the things that it entails.
When I got injured, I kind of lost myself. I had to go through a lot of ups and downs because you kind of lose your sense of purpose a little bit, and you feel what I am doing, and it goes way beyond how much money you are making. You want to play the game you love and cannot because you are recovering from your injury. So, I can only imagine what Klay is going through right now, especially dealing with back to back injuries.
ONE37pm: Do you see yourself coaching or in a management role when you retire from professional soccer?
Lletget: That is a good question, and I am still trying to figure that out. That is going back to the YouTube stuff, and I am still trying to see what suits me best, and I love the game of soccer. There is a global sport, and there are a lot of positions that I can possibly fit into post my playing career, whether that is working in an office, on the field, or being a head coach, assistant coach, and/or a scout. I am not sure yet, but as I get orders, I appreciate coaching more. So, I think that is something that I have gained in the last two years, and I have been blessed to have worked with so many people seeing different styles and many ways to do things. Coaching is something that interests me.