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Record three Sounders named to MLS Best XI

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Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz named to Best XI.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

A trio of Seattle Sounders added some major accolades to their resumes Friday, as Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz were named to the MLS Best XI. That’s a record for the Sounders, who had never had more than two players named to the Best XI and had only had a total six players earn that honor in the previous 11 seasons combined.

It was the first time being named to the team for all three players. Previous members of the best XI (by year): Freddie Ljungberg (2009), Kasey Keller (2011), Ozzie Alonso (2012), Chad Marshall and Obafemi Martins (2014) and Chad Marshall (2018).

All three players enjoyed fine seasons in 2020, ranking among league leaders in stats like goals and assists during the pandemic-shortened campaign.

Lodeiro as first-time inclusion is a bit surprising, given his prolific entry into the league in 2016 and sustained quality since. His 10 assists in 2020 were tied for the league lead, the first time a Sounders player has ever accomplished that. Lodeiro has recorded double figures in assists in each of the last four years, one of just six players in MLS history to manage that feat. He was named the 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year after joining the Sounders midseason from Boca Juniors in Argentina, sparking the club’s run to a first MLS Cup that year, before winning a second last season.

For Morris, the award caps his return from injuries, which took nearly 18 months of his time away from the field in 2017 and 2018. He finished tied for fifth in the MLS Golden Boot race with 10 goals in 2020, the third time in his five MLS seasons he’s scored in double figures. Morris also added a single-season career-best eight assists, tied for fifth-most in the league. He was the only player in the league to rank among the Top 5 in both categories.

Ruidíaz has been in the league the shortest amount of time of the three, but his impact has been no less pronounced. He finished in a tie for second place in the MLS Golden Boot race with 12 goals, the third time in three years he’s hit double-figures. After signing as a Designated Player from Monarcas Morelia in Mexico midway through the 2018 season, Ruidíaz scored 10 goals that year, and followed it up with 11 during the regular season in 2019. He’s often saved his best performances for the playoffs, leading all players with four goals in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, helping the Sounders capture their second title.

Lodeiro and Morris will have the chance to add some additional hardware to their trophy case, as both are finalists for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award. All three Sounders are expected to start Tuesday against LAFC in the Western Conference quarterfinals. LAFC will be without four players, all of whom tested positive for Covid19 during the international break. That includes Diego Rossi, also named to the Best XI.