HOUSTON – So far, Nicolas Lodeiro has been worth every penny.
The Uruguayan playmaker has led the Seattle Sounders on a five-game unbeaten streak since his arrival. Even on a quiet night, Lodeiro capitalized on his only opportunity, a 94th-minute strike to pull the game even at 1-1 and give the Sounders a point at BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday.
Since Lodeiro’s signing, the Sounders haven’t just won, they’ve regain some of their scoring prowess, netting ten goals in their last five games.
Wednesday’s draw was missing some of that Sounders flair but not the faith.
“It’s great how we persevere,” said interim Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer after the game. “Our team doesn’t stop believing. The team believes that we can get something out of the game and finding that little action there was good enough to get us a draw.”
Lodeiro wasn’t the only quiet Sounder as Seattle were out-shot 22-6 by Houston. The Sounders never found their rhythm in a game that Schmetzer called a “dog fight.”
“The overall tactics of the game and everything, we did what we needed to do to get out of the first half,” said Schmetzer.
He credited Houston’s defense but added that Clint Dempsey’s absence played a role in the Sounders' quiet night.
“I wouldn’t say we were out of sync,” said Schmetzer. “I just don’t think we created as many chances as we had in the last four matches.”
The Sounders' new Designated Player has gone the distance in every one of his MLS matches to date, but Schmetzer doesn’t see that as a problem for Lodeiro, or his team, heading into Sunday’s Heineken Rivalry Week clash against the Portland Timbers (5 pm ET, ESPN | MLS LIVE in Canada).
“The fact of the matter is, this team doesn’t believe, doesn’t think, that they’re tired,” said Schmetzer. “They’re mentally strong enough to understand that the mind is a powerful thing. That if you’re legs are heavy, your mind can still work and you can still be effective for the team. That’s what they believe in."