Sebastian Lletget: Soccer, Style and Selfies

What are three alliterative words to describe U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Sebastian Lletget?

Let’s try soccer, style and selfies.

During the U.S. Men’s National Team’s March 2019 camp in Houston, we caught up with the rising MNT midfielder to discuss his fashion sense, the art of taking a selfie, his relationship with singer Becky G and the full-circle comeback from that horrific injury suffered during a 2017 World Cup Qualifying match in San Jose.


"I would like to say I'm versatile. For me, obviously being an athlete we're in the spotlight and so you want to show off a bit, but I think style is just a form of expression. I like to keep it clean, usually casual, but when it's time to get fancy I enjoy that as well. Thankfully, I'm in a position where I'm called to do that quite a bit. I have fun with it."


"I think if you look at the way a lot of people play the game and you see them off the field, there are common threads. People's personalities really come out. You see the way they play, and you see how they dress, and you think, 'Okay that definitely makes sense.' For me, I think it applies. I try to be creative in my dress and I try to be a creative player."

So two really important questions: 1) What makes the perfect selfie and 2) How much do you think about your facial expression when you take one?

“(Laughs) Okay, first making the perfect selfie is simple. It's all about the angle. And my facial expression? I try not to think about it. I guess I keep it as masculine and as chill as possible. I sort of give people a platform to have fun with it. I know people are going to have jokes about the selfies, but I enjoy that aspect.”

Often times after goals and in other moments, we see you make this heart shape with your hands. What is the significance of this?

"In goal celebrations and things off the field, I've always gravitated towards making that symbol. Knowing my personality, I'm a big lover. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true. I've done it in games, training, for photos and especially in Houston when we ran into that wall. I thought it was special to catch that moment. It's a beautiful mural of an astronaut making the heart sign, and it was big enough for me to stand in it. It's definitely to my family, friends, my girlfriend. It's for a lot of people who have supported me. I've been through a lot career wise and I have them in mind when I do it."

You have a famous girlfriend. How did you meet Becky G?

"We met when she was shooting her first feature film, "Power Rangers". Naomi Scott, who is the wife of my former West Ham teammate Jordan Spence, was cast in the same movie and Becky and her became really good friends. So, we met through Jordan and Naomi, who kind of played Cupid for us. I like the way we met because it's different from how it works with most people nowadays, meeting online or through a social app. It was really organic and almost old fashioned. We're coming up on three years together now and things have been great."

We know she did the theme song for Copa America Centenario in 2016, but does Becky G like soccer?

"She's always loved soccer. Her family is Mexican and they're big fans of sports—soccer and baseball mostly. Things all lined up for her in 2016. She was getting even more into soccer, we met and she had this song for Copa and began getting asked to do a lot of different things around the game. We're a soccer couple for sure. She comes to a lot of my games and does whatever she can to get to them. A lot of times she will fly in. She's been to both of the U.S. games I've played in San Jose. We both have busy schedules, but any way she can support me, she will."

You're a U.S. international and her family is Mexican. Have you experienced any split loyalty there?

"There's a little rivalry there for sure, but I enjoy it and we have fun with it. Her family is great."

Do you talk to Becky G more about her music or does she talk to you more about soccer?

"I think I talk to her more about her music because I enjoy diving into that world. I think it's just so different from what we do. There are some similarities in terms of the pressure of performing and fame, but I think the creative part is so different. That's the part I enjoy most. I give her feedback on music and sometimes I even try to give advice. Obviously, I'm part of the audience and I try to give her an outside perspective of things. She can be so attached to a project, but I'm able to give her the feedback of someone from outside the music industry and it allows her to take a step back and listen to something from another angle."

March 24, 2017 against Honduras was a pivotal moment in your career. The day began great—starting your first qualifier just a few miles from where you began your youth career in San Jose and scoring the opening goal five minutes into the match. About 10 minutes later, you're coming off the field with a bad injury. Can you describe the range of emotions you felt on that night?

"There are several things that come to mind. You're playing your first World Cup Qualifier. It's a coach [Bruce Arena] I had played under with my club, but different in a National Team environment and playing in my hometown in front of family and friends. I scored a few minutes in and it was an amazing feeling because of the lift it gave our team in a hard moment. You go from that to a bad tackle and coming off injured so soon after. I didn't know how long I was going to be out. It ended up being a little over a year and that part was really tough. It's all about progress and I chipped away little by little. I've always told kids you have to keep rolling with the punches and you can't give up. You have to keep fighting. I can't say that enough."

When did the reality set in for how long it was going to take to get back on the field?

"It took about two weeks after to find out just how long I was going to be out. It was scary. You go through dark times and emotions and I think people don't understand the mental toll a long-term injury can take on an athlete. For me, it was about getting that part right and when I got to that point, it was really about telling myself, 'No one is going to do this for me. If I want to get back to where I was, I have to get my head together and I have to start working.' Slowly, the physical side started to come along. I started rehabbing and doing things, taking care of myself that way. Eventually I got to where I wanted to be."

Who was there to support you in getting back on the field?

"Several people. There were many from a distance, which is sometimes as good as having someone right there with you. Sometimes it just the words of encouragement that people can offer that give you a lift when a day has been tough. Then there are the people close to you—my immediate family, my girlfriend and her family played a huge part in taking care of me, but the Federation and the LA Galaxy, several physios had a lot of patience with me. So many people gave me a lot of love, and all of that stuff makes a difference."

Were there moments with doubt in terms of your recovery?

"There was a lot of doubt. That would creep in a lot. You just have to keep reminding yourself why you are doing this, what it means to you, where you want to be and how it's going to feel once you get there."

You got back out on the field for the National Team in the November friendlies late last year...

"Those games were really nice just to get my feet wet again. I ended last season pretty well in MLS, but I wasn't at 100 percent yet. I appreciated being part of the games against England and Italy—it was nice to put the jersey back on and be around the guys again. Moving forward into January and February was an awesome experience. Being there at the start of a new project with a new coach in Gregg Berhalter, the style and philosophy he began implementing and just the excitement around the group, it was a breath of fresh air. Obviously, it went well in those games and even the last two matches in March, I thought we showed progress. Everything is going the way it should be."

You mentioned the game in February. Could you write a better script then how you returned to Avaya Stadium, contributing the goal and assist in a 2-0 win against Costa Rica?

"That was my first trip back to Avaya Stadium since the injury in 2017. After a month of training with a lot of two-a-days, I felt really good physically. In that game we had a bunch of chances and a few shots go off the post, and when I was coming on in the second half Gregg just gave me really simple instructions to come in and help change the game. I felt like I adjusted well and helped shift things back in our favor and then Jonathan Lewis served up the ball to me at the back post. A few minutes later, I'm putting Paul Arriola through on goal and we win 2-0."

“For me it was one of those things that you just visualize or dream about and it comes to fruition. It was a full circle moment. I remember Michael Bradley coming up to me after saying that he couldn’t believe how everything lined up. My goal that day came at the same post where I scored against Honduras in 2017 and I ran to the corner to celebrate with my teammates – it wasn’t too far from where I went down on the sidelines in that match. It was a range of emotions, but all positive and really hit home all I had to do to get back on the field, playing well, and of course now again with the National Team."

There were a lot of days I wasn’t sure I would be back, but to score that goal in the same place where my career could have derailed, to do it in front of so many family and friends, that was very special.
Sebastian Lletget
And as much as this is being made about me, I’d be wrong not to bring it back to our team. We worked so hard that month on learning and implementing the new style of play and I thought that goal was a good example of what we were working to achieve.
Sebastian Lletget

After two camps under Gregg Berhalter and his new coaching staff, what have been your main takeaways?

"I think their attention to detail jumps out and it's contagious. I find myself looking at and studying the game differently than I have before. My approach to the game, whether it's positioning, spacing and things like that as a midfielder have opened my eyes. They have done a really good job so far and I think the sky is the limit with what we can achieve. I think he is opening the doors to that."

One of the main goals he is setting out for the team is to change the way people think about American soccer. How does that manifest itself for you?

"I think it's an amazing goal. When he puts that up on the board, it sets a tone for any game we go into. People have a way of thinking about the game in this country and every time we step on the field we can change their minds. I think slowly, even in the first four games, we're starting to do that. I think we will continue on trying to do that and the sky is the limit."