While Sebastian Lletget battled tightness in his groin throughout most of the preseason, offseason signing Emmanuel Boateng slotted into Lletget’s spot at the left midfield. The 22-year-old Boateng had an encouraging offseason for the Galaxy, despite some offensive miscues in the team’s CONCACAF Champions League debut, so the competition for the starting spot in the left side of the midfield is definitely strong heading into the rest of the season.
Lletget said this week that he is “very, very close to 100 percent” leading up to the second leg of the Galaxy’s CCL quarterfinal match against Santos Laguna on Tuesday (7 p.m., Fox Sports 2, Sportsnet World). He said returning to full fitness is still the main concern, but intends to retain his starting spot when he becomes fully healthy.
“This is a very competitive environment,” Lletget said. “If someone fills your spot, you have to get it back. I’m ready for that. I’ve done it all my life. It’s nothing new to me. I’ve had to fight for everything.”
The San Francisco native played the final 23 minutes of the first competitive game of the year, subbing on for Boateng in the scoreless draw against Santos last week. Lletget’s appearance on the field reinvigorated a withering offense that was starting to tire in its first competitive game of the season.
Boateng, who joined the Galaxy after playing for Sweden’s Helsingborgs IF, is noted for his speed. Head coach Bruce Arena said previously during the offseason that Boateng is still adjusting to the defensive side of the ball. After the first game of the season, the 22-year-old was happy with his defensive performance that contributed to the team’s shutout at home.
“I think in terms of keeping the shape of the team and defense in the middle third, I was there,” Boateng said of his performance in the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals. “I think I needed to get on the ball a little more in the final third and that’s because we haven’t played a lot with each other. It’ll come with time. As time goes on, we’ll try to sharpen all aspects of our game.”
Yellow card watch
Steven Gerrard, Giovani dos Santos and Jelle Van Damme are all on yellow card watch for the return leg.
Santos’ Diego Gonzalez is suspended for Tuesday’s game due to yellow card accumulation. Although Gonzalez will be out, Santos gets Andrea Renteria back after the forward returns from his own yellow card suspension.
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