These days in Major League Soccer – or any other top-flight league, for that matter – you don’t see too many 34-year-old playmakers tearing it up week in and week out.
Yet that’s exactly what we’re witnessing this season with Nicolás Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders FC’s legendary elder statesman who’s defying Father Time and putting together a remarkable start to 2023. With the Uruguayan maestro pulling the strings in midfield, the Rave Green have come flying out of the gates after five matchdays with a 3W-1L-1D record, good for second place in the Western Conference.
But second place is never enough for Lodeiro.
Upon his arrival in 2016, the former Ajax and Boca Juniors star helped usher in Seattle’s golden era by winning MLS Cups in 2016 and 2019 (while reaching the 2017 and 2020 finals) as the Sounders eventually cemented their status as global league ambassadors last year by becoming the first MLS club to win the modern iteration of the Concacaf Champions League and, in turn, qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.
And it's especially not enough considering he’s in the final year of his contract with the club, who have yet to initiate negotiations about extending his stay in the Emerald City.
“We want to have a great season, we want to compete again in MLS,” Lodeiro said, referring to Seattle's failure to reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history last season, during a sit-down interview with FutbolMLS.com.
Any talk about a possible new contract, however, evokes a far less-certain response from Lodeiro.
“I try not to think about that,” Seattle's captain said, preferring to focus on the here and now. “What I want is to enjoy the day-to-day. Let the club decide – truthfully, they know that whenever they want they can sit and talk to me.
“… I want to play well, help the team on and off the field, be a leader, be an example."
Leading by example has been Lodeiro’s M.O. since day one in Seattle. With 48 goals and 81 assists across 185 MLS regular-season and playoff games, the two-time FIFA World Cup veteran has been the club’s offensive motor for more than a half-decade, the face of a club that has reached unforeseen heights during his tenure.
Capturing last season’s CCL title made the Sounders the standard by which all other MLS teams are judged, according to Lodeiro.
“That marked that high bar that we’d set for ourselves. Both new and current players have to keep this going because we don’t want this just for now, but for the future as well,” the Designated Player stated, aware that he won’t always be around to carry the load.
“The academy kids, the new players have to feel this as well.”
This season, at least, Lodeiro shows no signs of slowing down. With one assist in five games (all of them starts), the Uruguayan remains as dominant a midfielder as ever, the linchpin of a Sounders attack that’s fourth-best in the league with 10 goals.
And as far as he’s concerned, Seattle will always be “home” to both him and his family, whatever the future may hold.
“I try to have fun and whatever needs to happen will happen,” Lodeiro said, even hinting at a post-playing role with the Sounders. “It would be nice to keep representing the club, not just on the field."
“If the club decide to talk or they have something to tell me, they know I’m here,” said Lodeiro, who signed an extension through this season back in 2020.