TUKWILA, Wash. — Back when the Seattle Sounders signed Nicolas Lodeiro, the talk was all about how he would be a “force amplifier,” someone who would essentially make the players around him better.
Friday’s signing of Raúl Ruidíaz is of a similar level of importance, but purposefully designed to be a bit different.
“Don’t know if I have any good corporate speak for this one,” Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said, half-jokingly. “What I will say is that when we brought in Lodeiro we didn’t have a central midfielder that we could play through in a traditional sense.
“This is to some degree providing a finishing connection to the circuit. We have all the pieces, we have the chance creation, we have a solid defense, what we need is an elite finisher. Certainly that need was magnified when Jordan [Morris] went out [in February]. We haven’t had that truly elite finisher in awhile, maybe since Oba [Martins] left [in February 2016]. If you want to put a team on a blank canvas and start drawing, you have an elite playmaker and an elite goal-scorer. That’s a pretty good foundation to start building around, especially when you have the pieces we have when building around those guys.”
Despite rumors that Lodeiro may be looking to move, the Sounders see him as a long-term partner with Ruidíaz. Lagerwey noted that Lodeiro has signed an extension that puts him under contract through 2021, while Ruidíaz is signed through 2022.
In the short term, Lagerwey thinks the roster he’s helped compile should still be able to make a run similar to the ones the Sounders have made each of the past two years. And that’s without the TAM signing Lagerwey said the team plans to make before the close of the transfer window.
“We have to start believing in ourselves again,” Lagerwey said. “I’ve never lost faith in this roster. I don’t buy this narrative that we went from a championship team to one that can’t compete. I think it’s about believing in ourselves. We have a rivalry game on Saturday that everyone will be up for that will be a lot of fun.
“What Introducing Raul today may do is remind us, give us that little bit of spark, that we’re really good. We just have to put this together and play a little bit.”