Major League Soccer on Friday named Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro and forwards Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris to its 2020 MLS Best XI, honoring the best 11 players of the season. Lodeiro and Morris are also finalists for the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP award.
After playing Best XI-caliber soccer since he arrived in the summer of 2016, Lodeiro finally earned his first recognition after a seven-goal, 10-assist output in just 20 matches. He tied for the MLS lead in assists as well as big chances created, but he was quick to deflect the praise.
“This recognition is related to being part of a team,” said Lodeiro. “We scored and we had these numbers, but we also need to think about our teammates, the folks that are marking, the folks that are playing well in defense. We all work as a team.”
Morris’ inclusion comes on the heels of what has truly been a two-year stretch of dominance. The Mercer Island native had 10 goals and eight assists in just 22 matches (including 18 starts) this season while continuing to be arguably the worst defensive matchup in MLS. He echoed much of Lodeiro’s sentiments in accepting the award.
“It’s a huge honor, but I wouldn’t be here without [Lodeiro and Ruidíaz] and the rest of my teammates, so it’s definitely a team award as well,” Morris said. “You always strive to do the best you can, and these individual awards are nice recognition, but it’s thanks to Nico and Raúl and the rest of my teammates.”
Ruidíaz finished the regular season tied for second in the league in goals with 12 in just 17 matches, while also chipping in in four assists. Since joining the Sounders in the summer of 2018, Ruidíaz has recorded double-digit goals in each of his three years and was proud to live up to the expectation surrounding his signing.
“When one arrives at a new club, all we want is to contribute, so to be top 11 across the entire league, it’s great recognition,” said Ruidíaz. “I’m even happier that I’m sharing this with my teammates because of our chemistry and all the effort that we’ve been putting in.”
The Sounders have a massive Round One clash against LAFC on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. PT; ESPN, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM), and the trio is hoping this honor will help them reach a new gear as they prepare to defend their 2019 MLS Cup title.
“When I play soccer, I’m always thinking about winning as a team,” said Lodeiro. “What stays with me is winning as a team and winning titles. Having those three Western Conference titles, the two MLS Cups, means more than an individual recognition. Having this award is nice, but it’s an extra...Now it’s a matter of enjoying the moment and taking this beautiful thing as motivation into the playoffs.”
Added Head Coach Brian Schmetzer: “I’m sure all three of those guys would trade that individual award for them to get back to MLS Cup. As a matter of fact, I know it.”