TUKWILA, Wash. – He’s the one member of the Seattle Sounders attack, who’s yet to benefit from the new life injected in the team after the signing of Uruguayan creative midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro.
While Clint Dempsey has already struck for a Lodeiro-inspired hat trick and Jordan Morris is seeing his runs behind opposing defenses rewarded with seeing-eye passes from his new teammate, the one forward who has yet to share in the joy is veteran Nelson Valdez, who has scored plenty for clubs in Spain, Germany and Greece throughout his career.
The 32-year-old reminded everyone of his class after Tuesday’s practice, scoring on a brilliant mid-air volley. But goals continue to elude him in league play after 14 appearances in 2016. He only has one league goal to his name since arriving in August 2015, making the 80th minute chance he missed in front of a wide open goal last weekend in Orlando all the more galling.
“It's frustrating, a game like that is frustrating because everything could have been perfect, but instead I think I was the only player that went home sad that night because like any other player and forward I want to do my job right. So when you get an opportunity like that one and you don't take advantage of it, you want to kick yourself,” Valdez told MLSsoccer.com. “But I am a born fighter and I will not stop until I continue to score again and help the team.”
But his future prospects to get back to his scoring ways would seem promising based on how the team has responded to the addition of their new playmaker, Lodeiro, who has been involved in the build-up of three of four Sounders goals in just two matches.
Their next match comes at home against Real Salt Lake (7 pm ET on FS1 in USA; MLS LIVE in Canada) as they seek to make up an eight-point gap from the rest of the playoff field in the Western Conference.
“The team has changed a lot. I think we’re playing really good soccer,” Valdez said. “I think the last game [vs. Orlando City, 3-1 win] was one of the best. Against LA we deserved to win, but unfortunately we weren't able to. This time [vs. Orlando] we were. Let’s hope we can continue this way. The two new players have given us a fresh air and the way Nico is playing, it’s a joy to see him playing like this.”
“You saw it in the two games already,” Valdez continued. “I think MLS should be happy to have a player like him, I believe he is a difference maker and does things you don’t see in MLS. We’re proud to have him here on our team and we hope he can help us.”