With the new season now here, we count down the five players who will be most important to the Seattle Sounders’ chances of winning a second consecutive MLS Cup.
There have been a lot of changes since the Seattle Sounders captured their second MLS Cup last season with a 3-1 win over Toronto FC. A number of key departures, including the likes of Victor Rodriguez, Roman Torres, Brad Smith and Kim Kee-Hee, a few crucial acquisitions, and an evolving roster that now sets up for another run at the big time.
This all leads to the question of what the Sounders need to do in 2020 to once again contend. Will they extend their league record of 11 consecutive postseason appearances? Can they build one of the elite teams in MLS once again? Can they repeat as MLS Cup champions?
Part of Seattle’s success will be determined by how certain individuals perform. In this respect, here are the top five key players for the Seattle Sounders in 2020.
5. Nicolas Lodeiro
The first key player is arguably the most obvious selection, but this doesn’t make Nicolas Lodeiro any less important to the Seattle Sounders. There is no getting around the influence he has had since arriving in Seattle in July 2016.
Lodeiro’s impact was immediate as he recorded four goals and eight assists in just 13 regular-season games. This form extended into the postseason when he scored four goals in six starts, to help the Sounders win their first-ever MLS Cup.
The 30-year-old’s best regular season so far for the Rave Green came in 2018. he scored eight goals and set a new single-season club record with 16 assists. This also saw him become the franchise leader for all-time assists, a position which he still holds to this very day.
In some eyes, Lodeiro took a step back last year, although he still registered seven goals and 12 assists during the regular season. In any event, he stepped up when it mattered most during the postseason with two strikes and five assists in four games, performing consistently throughout the Sounders’ run to a second MLS Cup win.
Talking of consistency, this is what makes the Uruguay international so crucial to the Rave Green. When he is on form, the entire team benefits immensely, as evidenced by three MLS Cup appearances in four seasons. There has been some understandable concern surrounding Lodeiro’s tendinitis issues during training camp. However, he is renowned for his durability and toughness and, for what it’s worth, head coach Brian Schmetzer is unconcerned about his star player.