Nicolas Lodeiro added another accolade to his stellar first season in Major League Soccer on Monday, earning the 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year award after serving as one of the catalysts for the Seattle Sounders' late-season surge to the playoffs.
The Sounders' playmaker bested LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme and Columbus Crew SC’ forward Ola Kamara in the voting, joining Fredy Montero (2009) and Mauro Rosales (2011) as the third Sounders player to win the award. He's also the second Sounders player to capture a postseason honor this year, after forward Jordan Morris won the AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year earlier this year.
Lodeiro earned 37 percent of the total votes, which comprised player, media and club voting.
The Uruguayan international signed with Seattle as a Designated Player in late July and led the Sounders to one of the biggest turnarounds in Major League Soccer history. He scored four goals and tallied eight assists in 13 regular-season games, propelling Seattle to a 7-2-4 record down the stretch an unlikely eighth consecutive postseason berth.
MLS named him August’s MLS Player of the Month after he scored twice and added six assists in five matches.
Lodeiro’s play in the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs has been stellar as well. He has three goals in three games, including an all-important away goal at FC Dallas in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals earlier this month.
Lodeiro’s performance is all the more impressive given the offensive burden he’s been forced to shoulder with the loss of Clint Dempsey, who was shut down indefinitely in late August with an irregular heartbeat. Lodeiro has been the overwhelming recipient of opposing defenses’ game plans as they’ve tried to derail the Sounders’ attack, but it hasn’t stopped him. He’s been the lynchpin in Seattle’s offensive spark down the stretch.
To put into perspective how influential Lodeiro has been since he arrived in Seattle, below are the points per 90 minutes of the three MLS MVP finalists and Lodeiro, who finished just behind Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Lodeiro is the seventh South American player to be named MLS Newcomer of the Year in the 10 years it’s been awarded.
He and the Sounders will host the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship on Tuesday (7 p.m. PT; FS1, KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM) before traveling to Commerce City for the return leg on Sunday.