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Nico Lodeiro likely to be shut down until June

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Sounders have gone 5-0-1 mostly without their captain.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Nicolás Lodeiro has played less than 30 minutes this year and is unlikely to play anymore until the Seattle Sounders return from a break in early June, Brian Schmetzer told KJR on Tuesday. Lodeiro missed the season’s first two games with a quad injury, played 24 minutes against the LA Galaxy and has missed the last three games with knee pain. He missed several games at the start of 2020 with tendinitis in the same leg but it’s unclear if that injury is related.

Schmetzer also noted that there are no plans to try to sign some sort of replacement for Lodeiro and that there’s some sort of surgery that will be tried.

“He’s still young,” Schmetzer said. “He’ll be fine at some point, but that inflammation is a tricky thing.”

Likely making the Sounders’ decision a bit easier is that the team has managed Lodeiro’s absence exceptionally well. They have compiled a 5-0-1 record to jump out to a four-point lead in the Supporters’ Shield race and their +11 goal-difference is one of the best-ever in league history through six games. All but one of their 13 goals has been scored without Lodeiro on the field.

Cristian Roldan has effectively filled Lodeiro’s role as the Sounders’ No. 10, albeit playing the position quite differently. Roldan has one goal and one assist, but his influence has mostly been felt in the off-ball runs he tirelessly makes that spreads out opposing defenses and his defensive effort. Roldan is among the highest-mileage runners in MLS and is averaging career highs in pressures (23.8 per game) and interceptions (1.83).

Josh Atencio essentially filled Lodeiro’s spot in the lineup the first two games, but then got hurt himself and has not played in the last four. Kelyn Rowe has started in the midfield for three of the games with Danny Leyva started the other.

The Sounders have two more games before the league takes a break for Nations League in June. On Sunday, the Sounders will host Atlanta United in front of what will surely be the largest home crowd since March 2020 as there will be nine vaccinated sections that won’t have social-distancing requirements. The Sounders then close out this stage of the season on May 30 with a home game against expansion outfit Austin FC, which will be playing their seventh straight road game to open the season.