The last four weeks have been a massive turning point for the Seattle Sounders. Though there may be many reasons for it, one man who undoubtedly stands in the center of that transformation is the Uruguayan Nicolás Lodeiro. His two-goal, six-assist introduction to the league has earned him the Etihad Airways Player of the Month for August.
The midfielder took 45.8% of the public vote, beating out Bradley Wright-Phillips, Patrick Mullins, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jozy Altidore. No Sounder has taken the honors since Obafemi Martins in September 2014.
Lodeiro only needed about 30 days to establish himself as one of the best playmakers in Major League Soccer. Through a combination of deft dribbling, passing, vision and work rate, he has created dynamic attacking play from Seattle where before there was nearly none, catapulting a struggling side into playoff contention.
Let’s look at just the numbers: After a warmup in the 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy, the Designated Player bagged a pair of assists against Orlando City SC, and a goal and an assist against Real Salt Lake. Then he served in a great ball for the last goal in a home win against the Timbers, and followed it up with a massive last-gasp goal midweek in the heat of Houston. Finally, he recorded two more assists in less than five minutes to help the team crawl back into contention in a rough match in Portland.
Watching the 27-year-old play, you know the numbers only tell part of the story. You just can’t stop Nicolás Lodeiro. At least, no one in MLS has figured out how yet.
If Seattle are going to make an 11th-hour run into the playoffs, it will surely be because Nico Lodeiro makes the Sounders’ September look a lot like their August.