No one has meant more to the Seattle Sounders’ MLS franchise than Nicolás Lodeiro.
The Uruguayan playmaker completely changed the ethos and capabilities of an ambitious club that had seen postseason success elude it for its first seven MLS seasons. Since Lodeiro arrived in 2016, the Sounders have the most MLS Cup Playoffs wins, including three Western Conference Championships and two MLS Cup titles.
“Wherever he has played he has made his team better,” Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said of Lodeiro when he first signed with the club. “We believe he can be a big piece of where we want to take the Sounders long term.”
The Sounders knew they were getting a proven winner in Lodeiro. Prior to his move to Seattle, he won a title in his native Uruguay with his boyhood club Nacional, he twice won the Dutch league with European giants Ajax as well as one Dutch Cup and was coming off an Argentine league title with Boca Juniors.
Lodeiro is more than just a leader of men. He backs it up on the score sheet. In just four and a half seasons, he’s shattered the Sounders’ all-time assist mark with 58, including four straight years in double digits. He’s also tied with current teammate Raúl Ruidíaz for fifth all time in goals with 33.
But perhaps nowhere has Lodeiro’s excellence shone brighter than in matches that matter most. He’s tied with Ruidíaz for first in postseason goals with seven and has sole possession of first in assists with seven as well. He stepped up and calmly converted a do-or-die penalty kick in the fifth round of PKs against Toronto FC in 2016 MLS Cup. He scored an equalizing penalty kick in extra time in 2018 to keep Seattle’s hopes alive against the Portland Timbers. And he put on a masterclass in last year’s Western Conference Championship, recording a goal and an assist in arguably the Sounders’ greatest team performance ever.
“Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz are elite players,” said MLSSoccer.com personality Andrew Wiebe when selecting his 2020 MLS Best XI team, “but Lodeiro is far and away Seattle’s MVP, and, in my opinion, the most complete midfielder in MLS.”
There’s a reason why Lodeiro is a finalist for the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP award and why he’s one of the most influential and successful signings in league history.
He and the Sounders will begin their title defense on Nov. 24 at home against LAFC (7:30 p.m. PT; ESPN, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).