LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney has revealed how is working on turning Sebastian Lletget into more of an attacking threat.
The USMNT midfielder is a steady presence for the Galaxy, expertly keeping possession ticking with precision passing and composure.
But a criticism often levelled at the 29-year-old is a lack of output in the final third relative to his ability. Indeed, prior to the Galaxy's 2-2 draw with FC Dallas on Saturday, Lletget had managed just 28 goals and 20 assists in 173 appearances for the club.
But Lletget was deployed in a much more advanced role as a half-time substitute on Saturday and found space in the box with a late run to score an 83rd-minute equaliser as LA came from 2-0 down against Dallas, just his second MLS goal of the season.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Vanney revealed he had been working closely with Lletget to get more out of him in the final third.
“Yeah, we've been talking to Sebastian for the better part of the last week about taking up higher positions, being more goal dangerous, being more assists dangerous," said Vanney.
"His tendency as a player, and he is outstanding at keeping possession, spinning away, doing all of those things. But you know, as I spoke to him for a while yesterday, I want him to not play to his default, which is to keep possession. I want him to play, to attack and to create chances and score goals. And if those things aren't on, then go to your default next.
"Don't just go to your default at the beginning and him breaking the line and running through and taking a chance there meant the difference in the game, really. And that was an aggressive run that I don't know, you can ask him, but maybe a week and a half ago or two weeks ago, he doesn't make, he sits out a little bit and tries to find the ball at his feet. But in this game, he's really tried this last week and I thought he was very good in the last match as well. But this week, he's really tried to emphasize more attacking runs, getting himself higher on the field, all those kinds of things, which I think is what's going to make him more influential in matches.”
Lletget himself says his work with Vanney is all part of a wider attempt to truly learn his place in his side. Ultimately, adding an attacking edge to his game will only serve to make him more adaptable and valuable.
“We have been having these ongoing conversations and I have tried to take it upon myself because of the disruption and rhythm and not having the consistent amount of games due to scheduling and things like that," Lletget told reporters.
"I've just tried to really learn my place in this team position-wise and obviously, we try so many different things and some things work, and some things don't. Sometimes we have an opposition that plays a certain way, and we adapt. It was a good conversation we had before this game that I just have to keep thinking forward because I know I can do it, it is just one of those things. I just have to keep building on that."
After a slump in form, the Galaxy are now unbeaten across their last four games, taking eight points during that time.
Vanney's side are fifth and above the playoff line with three regular-season games to go, starting with a trip to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.