Ever since the departure of Obafemi Martins just a couple of weeks before the start of the season, Seattle fans have been crying out for a Designated Player to fill the void.
On Wednesday the fans got their wish, when the drawn-out transfer of Uruguayan international Nicolás Lodeiro finally concluded. While people are obviously excited the club has brought in a player that was the No. 1 target from the moment Martins left, it’s worth noting that Lodeiro is certainly not a like for like switch with Martins.
While Martins was a clinical finisher whose pace and power saw him provide the clinical to the Seattle attack, Lodeiro is a smooth playmaker who has made a name for himself as a creator rather than a goalscorer.
Lodeiro is a proven international who has represented Uruguay in the World Cup and has experience playing in both Europe and South America. I recently had the chance to cover Lodeiro playing for Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores, and while Boca went out of the competition at the semifinal stage, his quality still stood out.
Lodeiro played both semifinal matches as an attacking midfielder who Boca looked to get on the ball and provide the ammunition for veteran Carlos Tevez. Lodeiro is probably best suited to the No. 10 role, but in those games it was obvious that he was also comfortable creating from a wider position too.
Lodeiro’s speed of play is something that definitely caught the eye. His ability to dictate the tempo by playing quick, penetrating passes highlights the footballing IQ that he possesses. Lodeiro’s technical ability means he is comfortable receiving the ball in tight areas, and the attention he will undoubtedly command form opposition defenses will undoubtedly open up space for the likes of Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris to exploit.
Lodeiro’s goal scoring record has never really been prolific, as he is constantly looking to create for teammates but that doesn’t mean he won’t score goals in MLS. Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco is an example of a player whose goal scoring numbers increased dramatically since his MLS debut, and while I don’t expect Lodeiro to score at the same kind of rate as the reigning MLS MVP, his shooting ability means he can chip in with his fair share of goals from the No. 10 position.
At 27, Nicolas Lodeiro is a DP signing that is reaching the prime years of his career. It can take foreign players time to settle in MLS, but once he does, the former Boca man has the ability to be one of the most creative players in MLS.