Nicolas Lodeiro, Luis Suarez - Uruguay - embracing during 2010 World Cup
Andrew Boyers/Action Images

How Luis Suarez helped the Seattle Sounders sign Nicolas Lodeiro

If it weren’t for Luis Suarez, Nicolas Lodeiro may have never signed with the Seattle Sounders.

The superstar FC Barcelona forward was with his longtime friend Lodeiro while both were playing for Uruguay at the Copa America Centenario this summer, at the same time that Lodeiro was talking with the Sounders about moving from Boca Juniors to Seattle.

Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey was regularly in touch with Lodeiro while he was in the US for the Copa. The duo would talk on the phone about MLS, the Sounders and life in the Emerald City, but, occasionally, things would get lost between the native English and Spanish speakers.

Enter Suarez. The former Liverpool striker was in the room during one of Lodeiro and Lagerwey’s calls during the Copa, and, after Lodeiro grew frustrated with his own English, hopped on the phone to translate both sides of the conversation.

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“It was just funny. Nico and I, we talked fairly regularly during the process, in part because it took four months for the thing to play out,” Lagerwey said on Monday’s ExtraTime Radio. “And he was in the US for the Copa America with Uruguay, obviously, and in hindsight that ended up being a big deciding factor for him, because he brought his wife and his little son and they got to see America and I think liked it and developed a comfort level with it. And I think that’s what ultimately pushed them to make the leap, but I was talking and Nico’s English is actually pretty, pretty good, but he isn’t always so comfortable on the phone.

“You don’t have body language, it’s harder than it is straight to the face and so he just got frustrated that he couldn’t understand everything that I’m saying. And so he says, ‘Hold on, speak to my friend,’ and I said, ‘OK,’ and I have no idea what’s happening. And Luis Suarez gets on and says, ‘Hi, this is Luis Suarez, how are you?’ And I’m like, ‘Morning, Mr. Suarez, how are you?’ And he was our translator.”

ExtraTime Radio Podcast

LISTEN: Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey on why losing Obafemi Martins was so tough, how the club landed Nico Lodeiro with the help of Luis Suarez, Clint Dempsey's future and the development of Jordan Morris. 

Lodeiro ended up joining Seattle in late July, recording four goals and eight assists in 13 regular-season games to power the Sounders’ remarkable run to the playoffs. He’s been equally excellent in the postseason, scoring four goals in five matches to lead Seattle to their first MLS Cup, where they’ll take on Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday (8 pm ET; FOX, UniMas in the US, TSN1/3/4/5, RDS in Canada).

As for Suarez, he’s currently tearing it up with Barcelona, scoring the club’s lone goal in their 1-1 draw against Real Madrid over the weekend. He’ll presumably stay in Spain for the foreseeable future, but that didn’t stop Lagerwey from extending an invite to the 29-year-old to join Seattle.

“He told me maybe he comes in seven years. That was his quote, so maybe that’s when his contract runs out,” Lagerwey laughed. “I told him we’d love to have him whenever he was ready, but it was just a funny little anecdote along the way.”