Nicolas Lodeiro - Jonathan Osorio - Seattle Sounders - Toronto FC - 2016 MLS Cup
USA Today Sports

Once part of same club, Jonathan Osorio and Nico Lodeiro set for third MLS Cup clash

TORONTO – Jonathan Osorio is very familiar with Nicolas Lodeiro.

The two midfielders will meet in a third MLS Cup Final on Sunday when Lodeiro's Seattle Sounders host Osorio's Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN, TVAS, TSN).

“He beat me the first time, I beat him the second,” quipped Osorio of the 2016 and 2017 finals.

But the connection goes way deeper than that.

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It was back in 2010 when Osorio was a teenager that he and Canadian national teammate Lucas Cavallini left Toronto and travelled to Uruguay, joining the academy of famed club Nacional, where Lodeiro plied his trade.

“I was in the youth [setup] when he was already on the first team,” recalled Osorio. “When I arrived, he was the main man, a big player there, and then he got sold to Ajax shortly after.”

Living in a dormitory with 30 other hopefuls between the ages of 12 and 18 was a formative experience for Osorio, who spent two years in Uruguay before returning to Toronto and joining TFC shortly thereafter.

Though the two spent just a brief spell at the same club, Osorio has tracked Lodeiro’s career since.

“I’ve always followed him to see where he would go,” he explained. “Through Ajax, to Boca, and to Seattle. And with [Uruguay], he’s been a big player with the national team as well.”

Lodeiro’s Sounders got the better of TFC in the 2016 final, his first season in MLS, with the Uruguayan hitting the back of the net in the shootout after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer to help his side lift the MLS Cup. Come the 2017 edition, Osorio’s Toronto got their revenge with a 2-0 win over Seattle.

When the rubber match is played this weekend, both are expected to be instrumental in their side’s success.

Now wearing the armband for the Sounders, Lodeiro is a wild card on the pitch in terms of his impact.

“[He] will change the picture of things, move into different areas of the field, take up different spots,” warned Toronto head coach Greg Vanney. “He becomes a kind of a joker on the field, in terms of the way he wants to manipulate things. Lodeiro has a ton of freedom to really do whatever he feels is necessary on the field to change things.”

It will fall on Osorio and his fellow midfielders to limit Lodeiro’s ability to impact the outcome.

“Really good player, a lot of experience. We know him very well,” said Osorio. “We’ve seen him already in two finals and we saw the other day what he could do against [LAFC in the Western Conference Final], the best team in the league. He’s a guy that we’re going to have to look out for.”

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