SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders made a huge play Wednesday to save their season and build for the years beyond by signing Uruguayan midfielder and World Cup veteran Nicolás Lodeiro to a multi-year deal as the club’s newest Designated Player.
Although the move had been rumored for weeks, it wasn’t a reality until Lodeiro arrived in Seattle this week, bringing a fruitful close to months of courtship between the Sounders and the key cog for one of the South America’s biggest clubs. He's being added to the Sounders roster pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Clearance, and will be unveiled during a press conference Wednesday morning inside The Ninety at the Sounders' Pioneer Square office, with a live stream available here.
Lodeiro, 27, joins the Sounders after previously playing in four countries and with two of the world’s most storied franchises – he signed with Dutch side Ajax at just 20 years old and most recently suited up for iconic Argentine club Boca Juniors – and with two World Cups under his belt. A native of Paysandú, Uruguay, Lodeiro appeared for Uruguay in South Africa in 2010 and again in Brazil in 2014, and boasts 48 caps with La Celeste since his debut in 2009.
He also won the Copa America title with Uruguay in 2011 and appeared for the team in the Copa America Centenario earlier this summer on U.S. soil.
"We have doggedly pursued our top target, Nicolás Lodeiro, for the past several months and we are delighted our persistence finally paid off with his signing. We were willing to wait for Nico because we believe in his character off the field as well as his abilities on it,” Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said. “Wherever he has played he has made his team better. We believe he can be a big piece of where we want to take the Sounders long term.
"For a player who has played in three Copa Americas, winning once, played in two World Cups and played in four Copa Libertadores, twice reaching the semi-final, to join us in the prime of his career reflects the growing stature of not only Seattle, but MLS as a whole."
A left-footed attacking midfielder with a reputation for speed, technical ability and deadly free kicks, Lodeiro made his professional debut with Uruguayan side Nacional at 18 years old in 2007. Since then he won a league title in Uruguay, a pair of Eredivisie titles with Ajax and an Argentine Primera División crown with Boca Juniors last year. He's also played for Brazilian clubs Corinthinans and Botafogo, and made nine appearances in South America’s historic Copa Libertadores tournament, including a run to the tournament semifinals with Boca Juniors earlier this month.
"The last several months allowed an opportunity for our staff to scour the globe to bring a high-caliber player to the Emerald City, and we are confident we have found one in Lodeiro,” Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. “Lodeiro has proven himself to be an excellent player, fantastic teammate and beloved fan-favorite at every stage of his professional career, and we are very excited to have him as part of our organization."
Lodeiro will occupy an international roster spot for the Sounders and joins forwards Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez as the club’s three Designated Players. Lagerwey said Tuesday that the club’s deal with Lodeiro will last until 2019 and the Sounders will hold the option for additional years, but financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Sounders (6-12-2, 20 pts.) are currently languishing in ninth place in the Western Conference and are at risk of missing the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight years. The club is hopeful Lodeiro can add some punch to an offense that has scored just 20 goals this season, third fewest in the league. The Sounders have lost three of their last four, including road losses to the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City by a combined score of 6-1 over the past two weeks.
Lagerwey said Tuesday that he’s hopeful Lodeiro can play for the Sounders as early as Sunday, when the team hosts the LA Galaxy in a full-stadium match at CenturyLink Field (1 p.m.; ESPN/KIRO 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360AM). If he’s unable to play in that game, he could make his debut on the road against Orlando City SC on Aug. 7.