Nicolas Lodeiro - Seattle Sounders - July 31, 2016

TUKWILA, Wash. – Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro only played 13 regular season games and 1,170 minutes for the Sounders after signing with the club in July.


But after a dominant run of form in those 13 games that has put him squarely in the conversation as the most transformative midseason signing in MLS history, the 27-year-old Uruguayan might have a more compelling case for the league’s MVP award than you might think.


If it sounds ridiculous to suggest that a player who played less than half the season could be MVP, consider the following: Prior to Lodeiro’s arrival, the Sounders were 6-12-2 and 10 points out of the MLS playoff picture. After his team debut on July 31, they morphed into the league’s hottest team almost instantly, with Lodeiro acting as the unquestioned catalyst as they went 8-2-4 down the stretch and ended the regular season as the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed.


Asked after Seattle’s Tuesday practice at Starfire Sports Complex whether all that merited MVP consideration for his teammate, Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said Lodeiro’s role in turning Seattle’s season around, at the very least, shouldn’t be discounted when having the conversation.


“For sure. He’s a quality player,” Roldan said. “He’s a guy that deserves to be mentioned. The other guys that are finalists deserve to be there. But Nico deserves a ton of credit for our change.”


The MLS end of year awards candidates were announced on Tuesday, with the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player finalists unveiled as NYCFC’s David Villa and New York Red Bulls’ stars Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan.


Lodeiro, for his part, was named as a finalist for the league’s Newcomer of the Year award, while teammate Jordan Morris made the shortlist for Rookie of the Year honors, along with NYCFC's Jack Harrison and Philadelphia Union defender Keegan Rosenberry. For Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer, the fact that Lodeiro even managed to enter the MVP conversation as fringe candidate at all is indicative of just how far-reaching his impact on the club has been.


“I’m not so sure how those awards actually getting voted on and what the criteria is for all of that,” Schmetzer said. “Is it the most valuable player to their team, or the best player overall league-wide? Whatever the criteria are, I think that has something to do with the choice.


“But even to be mentioned in that conversation is good. It’s good for Nico.”


For this season, Lodeiro’s body of work was simply too small to be considered any sort of egregious snub. But if he carries his form of this season and maintains across a full campaign next year, it could be unwise to bet on his name being left off the ballot again.

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