Nelson Valdez is not coming back to Seattle. The 32-year-old has returned home to his native country on a free transfer signing with Cerro Porteno, one of the traditional giants of Paraguayan football. The Sounders will miss his defensive energy leading the line, but certainly not the dearth of goals that accompanied his time as the team’s striker.
Nelson Haedo Valdéz firmando el contrato en compañía del presidente Juan José Zapag, oficialmente ya es jugador de Cerro Porteño. pic.twitter.com/khHbspJCBW— Cerro Porteño (@CerroPort1912) January 4, 2017
While Valdez was a potent cultural force in the locker room, the Sounders elected not to pick up his contract option for the 2017 season after a lackluster offensive season saw him net zero regular season goals. Valdez’s production in the the playoffs, including two -match winning goals, might redeem him in fan’s memories it simply wasn’t enough for the club to think about retaining him as a designated player.
The Sounders made an effort to bring Valdez back to the team but GM Garth Lagerwey was not optimistic, citing that the salary cut they were asking Valdez to accept to remain in Seattle was untenable. The limited number of designated players spots in MLS made the idea of keeping a striker with offensive downside and defensive upside a luxury that the team just couldn’t afford. Especially when that offensive downside was to the tune of four goals in 40 appearances spread across 17 months. The trade for Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin just before Christmas added near certainty to the prospect of Nelson Valdez leaving.