Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro named 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year

He's only been in Seattle for half a season, but that was all Nicolas Lodeiro needed to be voted the 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year.

The Uruguayan midfielder, who arrived when the Sounders were struggling near the bottom of the table and keyed their surge into the upcoming Western Conference Championship, finished first among all three voting groups: MLS club management, media and players. Lodeiro finished with an average of 38.69 percent, well ahead of Columbus Crew SC forward Ola Kamara at 21.85 percent.

LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme was third at 12.52 percent, with Colorado Rapids forward Shkelzen Gashifourth at 9.84 percent. Gashi finished ahead of Van Damme in the media balloting, 10.81 percent to 8.11 percent, but otherwise the voting order in all three categories mirrored the final standings.

Only players with prior professional experience are eligible for the Newcomer of the Year award, and candidates in the category are ineligible for Rookie of the Year consideration.

Seattle were ninth in the West and had just parted ways with manager Sigi Schmid when Lodeiro arrived during the summer transfer window from Argentinean power Boca Juniors. He made his MLS debut on July 31 and was an impact player from the outset, scoring twice and adding two assists as the Sounders went 3-0-2 in his first five matches.

He finished the regular season with four goals and led Seattle with eight assists, helping the Sounders climb to fourth place in the West and secure an eighth straight postseason berth with an 8-2-4 record down the stretch. Lodeiro played and started in 13 of those matches.

After the Sounders advanced past Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in the Knockout Round, Lodeiro had three goals in two West semifinal matches to lead Seattle past Supporters' Shield and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup winners FC Dallas. Seattle now host Colorado in the first leg of the conference finals on Tuesday (10 pm ET, FS1, TSN1, TSN3, RDS2).

Internationally, Lodeiro has 51 career appearances for Uruguay, playing in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and also featuring in qualifying for the 2018 tournament. He also won the Copa América title with Uruguay in 2011 and featured in this summer's Copa América Centenario tournament.

Here is a breakdown of the voting results, by percentage:

<strong>Newcomer of the Year</strong>
<strong>Player Vote %</strong>
<strong>Media Vote %</strong>
<strong>Club Exec Vote %</strong>
<strong>Average %</strong>
<strong>Nicolas Lodeiro (SEA)</strong>
<p>Ola Kamara (CLB)</p>
<p>Jelle Van Damme (LA)</p>
<p>Shkelzen Gashi (COL)</p>

MLS Newcomer of the Year Winners:
2016: Nicolas Lodeiro – Seattle Sounders FC
Sebastian Giovinco
– Toronto FC
Pedro Morales
– Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Diego Valeri
– Portland Timbers
Federico Higuain
– Columbus Crew
Mauro Rosales
– Seattle Sounders FC
Alvaro Saborio
– Real Salt Lake
Fredy Montero
– Seattle Sounders FC
Darren Huckerby
– San Jose Earthquakes
Luciano Emilio
– D.C. United