Lagerwey: Seattle Sounders to lean upon veterans for 2020, especially as CCL looms

Nicolas Lodeiro - MLS Cup 2019 - goal celebration

SEATTLE – At this point, it’s hard to argue with the MLS legacy of Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro.

The Uruguayan playmaker has lit up the league since the moment he arrived halfway through 2016, when the Sounders signed him to a Designated Player contract after a hefty transfer from Argentine club Boca Juniors. He’s racked up 26 goals and 48 assists across 101 regular-season games, and now has two MLS Cups under his belts.

The latest arrived on Sunday as his Sounders beat Toronto FC3-1 at CenturyLink Field, capping an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs run that may have vaulted Lodeiro into the discussion of the league’s best-ever players.

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“The fans, enjoy this, because you deserve this trophy,” Lodeiro said after the match. “The MLS Cup is here because Seattle is big. It’s so big. And I’m very happy to be in Seattle. I’m very happy to see a lot of people today.”

Based on those remarks, Lodeiro seems content to remain in Seattle, and the midfield maestro looks nothing like a player on the decline. How long Lodeiro can sustain his busy work on both sides of the ball remains to be seen, but to hear Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey tell it, the club seems inclined to stay the course – not just with Lodeiro – but also with other pieces of their veteran core.

A major reason for that, Lagerwey told reporters after the MLS Cup victory, is the knowledge that the Sounders are going to be playing in Concacaf Champions League next season. The competition reduces the offseason for an MLS club and requires some veteran savvy that the likes of Loderio, Raul Ruidiaz and Stefan Frei, among others, bring.

“I think because we’re in Champions League, I think we’ll take a more conservative posture than we might otherwise have,” Lagerwey said. “We had the oldest roster in the league this year. If you don’t win the title, then I think you’ve got to look at trying to change some things. With Champions League coming up, it’s only a nine-week turn in the offseason, I think you look at your vets and you say can we get one more run out of them.”

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But don’t expect Lagerway to bask too long in the glow of his second title with Seattle in four years. Soon enough, it’ll be back to business and figuring out how to tackle the roster for 2020.

“We’ll have to have some hard conversations now,” Lagerwey said. “We’ve got the parade on Tuesday and then we’ll talk to everybody and we’ll see who wants to come back and who doesn’t. And we’ve got an expansion draft and there’ll be a lot of stuff to do, but once we figure out who’s here, then we’ll try to add to it and get ready for Champions League."