In just two-and-a-half years, midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro has already guided the Seattle Sounders to three postseason berths, two Western Conference championships and an MLS Cup title.
With his three assists against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Lodeiro once again etched his name into the club’s record books, surpassing Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales as the club’s all-time leader in regular season assists with 35.
Let’s take a look back at some of his best assists, and the impact they made on the club’s trajectory.
5.) At Orlando City (Aug. 7, 2016)
Some players take a while to adjust to a new league, but not Lodeiro. The Uruguayan maestro followed up an impressive debut against the Galaxy with a breakout performance in his second match as he guided the Sounders to a 3-1 road win over Orlando City SC.
While he recorded two assists on the day, it was his second, a perfectly weighted through-ball that released Jordan Morris into acres of space, that makes the list, as it foreshadowed the club’s historic run to MLS Cup. The dynamic duo of Morris and Lodeiro played a pivotal role in Seattle rattling off an 8-2-3 record to close out the season, which took the Rave Green from last place in the Western Conference to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
4.) Houston Dynamo (Oct. 8, 2018)
Great playmakers come in many different forms. There’s the classic No. 10, who sits between the lines and plays killer passes. There’s the box-to-box No. 8, a specialist in covering ground and driving the team forward. And then there’s the deep-lying playmaker, or regista, who operates like a quarterback shredding the opponent with long-range through-balls.
Lodeiro is all three rolled into one. And against Houston on Oct. 8 of this year, he showcased his well-rounded skill set as he torched the entire Dynamo team in transition, setting up Cristian Roldan for the second goal in a 4-1 win. The way he glides past challenges, shifts his angles, freezes four defenders and then releases a perfect ball into the path of Roldan perfectly encapsulates Lodeiro’s time in Seattle.
The Sounders would clinch an improbable 10th consecutive playoff berth in their next match, a 2-1 win over Orlando.
3.) Vancouver Whitecaps (Sept. 27, 2017)
In 13 regular season matches against Cascadia opponents, Lodeiro has recorded an eye-popping four goals and 10 assists. And on Sept. 17, 2017, he was absolutely dominant against the Whitecaps, scoring once and tallying two assists in a 3-1 win.
His second assist, which put the game well out of reach, was a thing of beauty. Lodeiro timed his run down the flank to perfection and curled in a teasing cross for Clint Dempsey to hammer home first-time, ’megging the goalkeeper as the Sounders inched closer to a Knockout Round bye.
2.) FC Dallas (Oct. 15, 2017)
A few weeks after carving apart the Whitecaps, Lodeiro put in another stellar performance against the reigning Supporters’ Shield champions, FC Dallas. He buzzed all over the pitch, finding pockets of space and playing incisive passes as the Sounders steamrolled their Western Conference foe in front of a boisterous crowd.
In second-half stoppage time, Lodeiro served in an inch-perfect in-swinging cross that landed squarely on the head of Lamar Neagle. That relentless approach set the tone for the next two months, as the Sounders closed out the regular season with a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids before storming through Vancouver and Houston en route to a second consecutive MLS Cup appearance.
1.) Vancouver Whitecaps (Sept. 17, 2016)
With the Sounders languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference standings midway through 2016, every point mattered as the team clawed its way back into playoff contention. Ahead of their match against the Whitecaps, the Sounders were winless in their three previous contests, making a win at home against their rival critical. And for much of the match, it seemed like any hopes of rescuing the season might be dashed, as the Rave Green simply couldn’t breach Vancouver’s goal.
But then in the 81st minute, with the match scoreless, Lodeiro picked out Morris’ run with a curling cross that the Homegrown forward flicked over the onrushing goalkeeper. The victory took the Sounders within three points of Portland in the final playoff spot. Seattle eventually leapfrogged its southern rivals as ut completed a miraculous comeback from last place in the West. Brimming with confidence after the win, the Sounders closed out the season with a 4-1-1 record.
Honorable Mention: Portland Timbers (June 30, 2018)
The Sounders fell at home to the Timbers, the final match before the start of their unprecedented second-half run to the playoffs, but Lodeiro recorded one of his most impressive assists in Seattle on a beautiful back-post cross to Rodríguez. After stealing the ball from two defenders, Lodeiro spun, picked his head up and saw the run of Rodríguez before putting the ball on a platter for the Spanish midfielder to head home.