Seattle Sounders striker Nelson Valdez hasn’t had the easiest time in Seattle, especially this season. He hasn’t scored since the Sounders’ US Open Cup win over Real Salt Lake, and he hasn’t scored in MLS at all in 2016. But after Sunday’s win against Orlando City, Valdez has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. After coming on in the second half as a substitute, Valdez had a golden chance presented to him by Jordan Morris—he had an open net, and all he had to do was tap it in. But his shot skewed a bit wide and hit the post before getting cleared away.
Valdez spoke a little bit after Tuesday’s training session about how things have changed for him and the team after the shake-ups of the last few weeks, and he even addressed his epic miss.
On the coaching change:
"Nico and Flaco give us some new energy, and with the new coach everyone wants to impress him and help him."
On Nicolas Lodeiro’s influence so far:
"Two games, two times in the first XI. He made a difference, and I think everybody enjoyed seeing how he played."
On his miss:
"I was upset after the game. During the game I don’t think about that, because it wasn’t winning and most important was the three points. Of course for one striker to not score like this is very difficult, but I work hard and maybe have more like it next time."
On what went through his head as the ball hit the post:
"F****** s***!" It’s tough because I can’t change it. I’m the first one that wants to score. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it’s unlucky. I won’t stop. I’ll keep working."
Local Spanish-language journalist and broadcaster Niko Moreno sat down with Valdez afterwards for a Spanish-only interview, and Moreno has allowed us to print that interview in English below:
On Sundays win:
"The truth is that the team has changed a lot, we are showing a great display of soccer. The last game has been one of the best we've played, against Los Angeles we also deserved to win but unfortunately we weren't able to this time we did. Lets hope we can continue down this same path. I think the 2 new players player gave us fresh air and seeing the way Nico is playing just makes me happy."
When things don't go your way like it happened on Sunday, what goes through your mind?
"It's frustrating, a game like that is frustrating because it could have been perfect but instead I think I was the only player that went home sad that night because like any other player and forward I want to do my job right so when you get an opportunity like that one and you don't take advantage of it makes you want to shoot yourself but I am a natural born fighter and I will not stop until I score and continue to help the team."
How much does Nico help you and the team?
"It has shown in the last 2 games already. I think the MLS should be happy to have a player like him. I believe he is a difference maker so for us it's an honor to have him in our team, not only helping me but the team in general."
Valdez has showed flashes of promise at times for the Sounders, but has failed to live up to the fairly large Designated Player contract he’s on. But there’s still plenty of time this season for Valdez to turn his luck around. After all, the Sounders play Real Salt Lake this weekend. They were the last team he last scored against, and he’ll be hoping to get on the pitch for a chance to do it again.