For Sebastian Lletget, USMNT playing Honduras brings memories and hope

United States' Sebastian Lletget celebrates with his teammate Ricardo Pepi after scoring his side's fourth goal.
United States’ Sebastian Lletget, right, celebrates with teammate Ricardo Pepi after scoring his side’s fourth goal against Honduras during a qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Sept. 8, 2021.
(Moises Castillo / Associated Press)
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Sebastian Lletget scored his first goal for the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier against Honduras. He scored his last goal for the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

On Wednesday, the U.S. will play another World Cup qualifier against Honduras. So, Sebastian, any predictions?

“I hadn’t put all that together,” Lletget said Tuesday afternoon, before the team’s final training session at a frigid Allianz Field. “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”


But, he conceded, another goal would certainly be a good omen: In the seven international games in which Lletget has scored, the U.S. has won six of them. And after Sunday’s punchless 2-0 loss in Canada, the Americans desperately need a victory to get their CONCACAF qualifying campaign back on track.

“We just want to get this win,” the former Galaxy midfielder said. “Canada wasn’t ideal, but we’re still in a good position. As long as we get the job done tomorrow, we’re back in an even better position.”

The U.S. (5-2-3) enters Wednesday second in the eight-team qualifying tournament, four points behind first-place Canada and leading third-place Mexico on goal differential. The top three finishers earn invitations to this fall’s World Cup in Qatar, and with Panama lurking just a point behind in fourth, the U.S. has little margin for error with four games left.

Canada’s win over the U.S. moves the team closer to a rare World Cup bid that would deliver a huge financial boost and bolster player development.

Feb. 1, 2022

The Honduras game could be tricky. The weather at kickoff is forecast to be 5 degrees with a wind chill of -10 — and the temperatures will drop from there. In soccer, adverse conditions almost always favor the weaker team, in this case winless Honduras (0-7-3), the only team already eliminated from World Cup contention.

“It’s going to be cold,” midfielder Weston McKennie said. “We don’t control the weather. So I think it’s something that we just adapt to and we play it just like any other game and we try to have the same result.

“At the same time, we don’t want to focus too much on the weather. We want to just get out there and get the job done.”


Although Lletget played in the first four qualifiers, starting twice, he hasn’t played since October’s loss in Panama — and he didn’t suit up for the last two games. Yet with captain Tyler Adams out of the game against Honduras because of a hamstring injury, Lletget is hoping to get back on the field — or at least the bench, which will be warmed with infrared heaters.

“If I get called upon, I’m definitely ready,” he said.

“Everything is good,” he added. “I’ve been training really well. I’m in good spirits.”

He should be, given his history with Honduras. The memories, however, haven’t all been pleasant.

Five minutes into his first competitive match with the national team in 2017, Lletget scored the first goal in a 6-0 romp over Honduras at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium, just a few miles from where he had played youth soccer. He had little time to enjoy the moment because 12 minutes later Honduran defender Ever Alvarado stomped on Lletget’s left foot, resulting in a rare Lisfranc injury that sidelined him for more than 11 months.

Panama's Michael Murillo is challenged by United States'´ Sebastian Lletget.
Panama’s Michael Murillo, right, is challenged by United States’ Sebastian Lletget during a qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Panama city, Panama, on Oct. 10, 2021.
(Arnulfo Franco / Associated Press)

That stomp arguably changed the trajectory of Lletget’s career. He scored seven goals in his first MLS season with the Galaxy in 2015 and had eight assists the next year.

He hasn’t matched either number since the injury.

Lletget says he doesn’t blame Alvarado, who has played just once for Honduras in the last 29 months and won’t be with the team Wednesday.


“It’s maybe just my personality, but I don’t hold it against anybody,” he said. “I’ve been asked if I would change anything. And sure, it did definitely put a big pause on my career. But I’ve come to experience a lot of amazing things [after] that injury.”

Another new experience awaits after Wednesday’s game when he joins his new club, the New England Revolution, for the first time.

Lletget, 29, was lured to the Galaxy from England’s West Ham United by Bruce Arena, who led the team to the playoffs in Lletget’s first two seasons. The Galaxy have lost more often than it’s won since Arena left after the 2016 season. Under new coach Greg Vanney, Lletget saw his role with the club diminish.

So last summer he began pushing for a trade, a wish that was granted in December when the Galaxy sold him to New England, where he’ll be reunited with Arena, the coach who gave him his first start both in MLS and with the national team.

The U.S. men’s national team complicated its hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 loss to Canada on Sunday.

Jan. 30, 2022

“For me, it’s more taking ownership of my career,” Lletget said. “Things just weren’t functioning and as much as I love the Galaxy, as much as I’m grateful for that club and all the opportunity it gave me, it was kind of my time to see what else is out there.

“I want to win. And especially winning here with the national team, I got a real glimpse of what that feels like. I haven’t done that at the club level so it’s an ambition of mine.”


First, he has a date Wednesday with an old foe he knows quite well.

“It’s a team that I’ve had previous success [against] but I can’t remember a time I played them and it’s been an easy game,” Lletget said of Honduras. “I’ve never been in there and felt like ‘this is a breeze. God I love playing against this team.’

“They are a tough team. And it’s going to be a battle.”