Facing an uncertain offseason, Nico Lodeiro provided some stability.
The Sounders FC co-captain agreed to a contract extension with the club this week and is signed through 2023. Lodeiro was in the final year of his previous deal but expressed a desire to sign an extension before the 2021 Major League Soccer season.
Lodeiro, who turns 32 in March, was originally signed in July 2016 from Boca Juniors, a revered club in Argentina. The Uruguayan is credited as the catalyst that turned a last-place Sounders team into the 2016 MLS Cup champions.
The midfielder earned his first Best XI honors this season, leading the club to its fourth MLS Cup in his five seasons in Seattle. The Sounders lost to the Columbus Crew SC 3-0 in the championship match on Saturday.
“(Nico) has been the cornerstone of our franchise since 2016,” said Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders’ general manager and president of soccer. “Everything is built around him. I thought he had another fantastic season and so we are super excited and grateful to have Nico back for three more years.”
Lodeiro’s guaranteed compensation for 2019 was approximately $2.5 million, according to the latest figures provided by the MLS Players Association. The Sounders paid Boca Juniors a reported fee of $6 million to bring Lodeiro to the club.
In a five-year stretch, the Sounders have won two MLS Cups and four Western Conference championships in advancing to the postseason a MLS-record 12 consecutive seasons.
Lodeiro has scored 33 goals with 58 assists in 121 league regular-season matches. In the postseason, Lodeiro had a run of seven playoff wins where he recorded at least one assist – a league record.
The 2019 season was likely Lodeiro’s most challenging physically as he dealt with tendinitis in his right thigh and back injuries where offseason treatment and the pandemic kept him from making his 2020 debut until the MLS is Back tournament in July. Lodeiro suffered a calf injury last week, which Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said played a role in Lodeiro’s effectiveness against the Crew.
“I’m certainly very, very happy that Nico has decided to end his best playing years here with our club,” Schmetzer said. “That is something the team is going to build on for next season. We’re going to come back stronger and see if we can’t win a few more games with Nico and team and continue the success of the Sounders.”
The Sounders previously announced the contract options on players like midfielders Joevin Jones and Miguel Ibarra were declined. Jones made clear he will be part of the MLS re-entry draft on Thursday.
Other players like veteran defenders Kelvin Leerdam and Gustav Svensson are still in negotiations with the club while Joao Paulo, a designated player from Brazil, is expected to sign a long-term deal.
“It’s a situation where JP wants to stay and we want to keep him,” Lagerwey said. “I’m cautiously optimistic something will get worked out, probably sooner than later. But we don’t have anything official that we can announce at this point.”