SEATTLE – After weeks of rumors and speculation, the Seattle Sounders officially unveiled Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro as their newest Designated Player signing in a morning press conference at the Ninety in downtown Seattle on Wednesday.
It’s a move that took some time, but one that the club now hopes will act as the much-needed antidote to their season’s-worth of lackluster attacking play.
Lodeiro, 27, has spent the past two seasons as a member of Argentine powerhouse Boca Juniors and also has 48 career caps and two World Cup appearances for Uruguay’s national team.
“When you pursue a player of Nico’s quality, that takes time,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said on Wednesday. “Candidly, even five years ago, the thought that the playmaking midfielder for the Boca Juniors – one of the biggest clubs in all of the Americas – would come play in MLS in the prime of his career at 27 years old was honestly unthinkable.”
Lodeiro’s entrance into the fold comes at a time when Seattle’s 2016 MLS campaign is at a crossroads. The Sounders currently reside in ninth place in the Western Conference and announced on Tuesday they had agreed to mutually part ways with longtime head coach Sigi Schmid.
Speaking through a translator on Wednesday, Lodeiro said the situation his new club finds itself upon his arrival is just part of the challenge.
“Obviously, I would have preferred to come to the team at a time when it’s doing well and the coach hadn’t just been changed,” Lodeiro said. “But at the end of the day, I see this as a challenge for me that I can take and help the team.”
Lodeiro has a proven track record as a dynamic facilitator and attacking threat in a season where the Sounders have sorely lacked one in its midfield. Seattle have managed just 20 goals this season, as the club has struggled to offset the preseason departure of former DP Obafemi Martins to the Chinese Super League.
“I think this is a game-changer for us,” Lagerwey said. “One of the things we want to emphasize is it’s not just that he’s been on some good teams and played with some good players and played in some big games.
“Everywhere he’s gone, Nico has won. He’s made his teams better. He hasn’t just played in five Copa Libertadores, he’s played in the semifinals twice. He’s played for a top-10 national team in two World Cups and played in a semifinal in a World Cup. These are experiences not many players in MLS have had.”
Now 10 points out of the playoff race with 14 games left in its season, the only question for Seattle now is if Lodeiro’s arrival has come in time to help the claw back above the red line. He might not have wait long for his first chance to make his mark, as he could be eligible to play as soon as this Sunday when the Sounders host the LA Galaxy at CenturyLink Field (4 pm ET, ESPN, MLS LIVE in Canada).