SEATTLE – With the obvious caveat that, especially in sports, nothing is actually over until it really is, Nicolás Lodeiro again made it clear that he believes he played his last game for the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.
Just as he had done in each of the Sounders’ previous five games, Lodeiro came off the bench in the Western Conference semifinal loss to LAFC. The 34-year-old was as active as ever, attempting 38 passes in about 40 minutes of total playing time and roaming all over the field. It, of course, wasn’t enough to keep the Sounders’ season alive.
“After many years with the club, it’s sad,” Lodeiro told the media in the postgame locker room. “First, because we lost and team deserved a little bit better, and so did the fans. We wanted to win tonight. At some point I feel sad, too, because it was my last game in front of these beautiful fans.”
If there is any lingering bitterness over his departure, Lodeiro wasn’t showing it. The Uruguayan was as gracious as ever, smiling while patiently fielding questions for at least 10 minutes.
The Sounders have enjoyed a remarkable level of success throughout their 15 MLS seasons, but they were undoubtedly at their peak with Lodeiro. In his eight seasons, the Sounders won two MLS Cups, two more Western Conference trophies and became the first MLS side to hold the Concacaf Champions League title. The Sounders won 15 playoff rounds in that time, only missing the postseason once. Lodeiro’s name is littered throughout the Sounders’ record book, including more than twice as many assists as anyone else.
Asked about the legacy he leaves, Lodeiro insisted he was more proud of the relationships he made.
“I feel good and satisfied,” he said. “Separate the trophies and the winning, what’s more important are the people like me as a person. I tried to do my best every time I was on the field and outside the field in the city. From the moment I got here, I felt I had a good relationship with the people of Seattle. That’s more important than my titles. I’m satisfied with my time here and I hope you feel the same."
Lodeiro also insisted that he has not given a lot of thought to what comes next, saying that his focus had been "100%" on helping the Sounders chase another title. But he did make clear that he is not ready to retire.
"I haven’t really thought about my future but for sure I want to play," he said. "I have energy, I feel healthy, I'm hungry for more trophies, I want to compete because it’s in my DNA. But now it’s time to wait. I’m sad because my world was winning another MLS Cup, so now I think about my future and I’m ready for more challenges.
"I’m open. I’m confident in my style and it’s time to wait to see what happens here or another country. It’s time to listen."