The general thinking for at least the last couple of years has been that Nicolás Lodeiro was planning to return to his native Uruguay to close out his playing career and then likely retiring there. The 34-year-old mostly spends his offseasons there, has spoken glowingly of his boyhood club and Nacional’s president has even stated they’d “do everything possible” to bring him back.
With Lodeiro’s contract running out at the end of this season and his seeming reluctance to talk about his status with local media, all signs seemed to point to it being his final year with the Seattle Sounders.
Maybe that was overthinking things. In a recent interview with MLS Español, Lodeiro not only said he was open to extending his contract but even suggested he could foresee remaining with the Sounders in a post-playing capacity.
“We love being here,” said about his family. ”We have grown children, they already go to school. We make our lives, and we feel very comfortable.”
Since arriving in the summer of 2016 during the most tumultuous period in Sounders history — he literally showed up at Starfire while Sigi Schmid was saying his goodbyes — Lodeiro has ushered in the most successful period in club history. Lodeiro has played a significant part in delivering the Sounders their first two MLS Cups and MLS its first Concacaf Champions League title as well as helping them to three other cup finals.
Despite playing in six finals in his first seven seasons, Lodeiro seems to feel as though he has unfinished business and at one point listed the Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup as trophies he’d like to lift while also implying that his long-term future is pretty much in the hands of the Sounders.
“I try not to think about it,” he said about his contract. ”I had a beautiful career here, in other places, I was able to play in great teams, in Europe, here. So I can’t complain. Now I want to enjoy day-to-day, let the club decide. They know that with me it’s sitting down and talking and having a normal treatment.”
While it’s unlikely the Sounders are interested in keeping Lodeiro if it means locking up a Designated Player spot, it’s easier to imagine him sticking around if he’s on a TAM deal. If Lodeiro were to accept such a contract, the Sounders could potentially sign a Young DP and two more U22 Initiative players.
Even at 34, Lodeiro is still performing at a high level — he’s currently fourth in MLS with 2.4 expected assists, second with 27 shot-creating actions and third with four goal-creating actions — and looks to be in as good of shape as he’s ever been. Even as MLS’s stars get younger every year, there are still dozens of players making significant contributions all over the field well into their mid-30s.
Lodeiro will surely have to evolve his game from one that is so dependent on his mobility, but that already seems to be happening as you can see in his raw usage rate being about 15% lower than his career average.
For a player who has delivered so thoroughly, it seems like it would make a ton of sense for the Sounders to at least pursue a long-term solution.
“There is still a lot of life to go,” Lodeiro said. “Although one wants to enjoy the family for that lost time that one invests in the club, one must continue working, and the truth is that by leaving an image here at the club it would be nice to continue representing it not only on the field, but also outside and be an image of the club.”