Sounders co-captain Nico Lodeiro and forwards Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz were voted to Major League Soccer’s Best XI team, the league announced Friday.
It is the first time in Sounders history the club had three first-team members in a single season. The last time the club had multiple players named was in 2014 with defender Chad Marshall and forward Obafemi Martins.
Morris won the Rookie of the Year honor in 2016 and was the 2019 Comeback Player of the Year. This is the first time Lodeiro has been nominated for a Best XI award. The Uruguayan was signed in 2016 and helped the Sounders win two MLS championships.
“It’s a beautiful recognition,” Lodeiro said as translated from Spanish during a video conference call with media Friday. “It’s an award for the hard work that we’ve put in year after year. And it’s great to share this happiness with peers like Raul and Jordan, who also deserve it.”
Lodeiro, who anchors the club’s midfield, finished the regular season with seven goals and a MLS-tying 10 assists. Of those assists, a MLS-leading six were for game-winning scores.
Morris, the starting left winger, had 10 goals and a career-best eight assists this season. Since signing with the Sounders, the Mercer Island native has totaled 35 goals and 20 assists.
“I wouldn’t be here without these two guys and the rest of my teammates, so it’s definitely a team award as well,” Morris said during a video conference call with media. “You always strive to do the best that you can and these individual awards are a nice recognition.”
Ruidiaz finished with a team-leading 12 goals and four assists, appearing in just 17 matches due to play for his Peru national team. He had four game winners and since signing as a Designated Player in 2018, Ruidiaz has scored 33 goals in 53 regular-season matches.
The Peruvian is even more lethal in the postseason, scoring seven goals in six playoff matches, including one to cap the Sounders’ 2019 MLS Cup win.
Morris and Lodeiro are also part of the five finalist for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award.
The Sounders (11-5-6) finished the regular season in second place in Western Conference standings. They begin defense of their championship against seventh-seeded Los Angeles FC on Tuesday at Lumen Field.
The Sounders will be without Xavier Arreaga. The defender was called up for international duty with his Ecuador national team last week when it experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among multiple players.
Arreaga has returned to the Sounders and hasn’t tested positive for the virus, but a medical task force for MLS and the Players Association did not deem it safe for him to play. Arreaga is expected to be available when conference semifinal matches begin Nov. 29, should the Sounders advance.
“We are very focused (in) preparing for the match,” said Ruidiaz of LAFC as translated from Spanish during a video conference call with media. “We want to close the season well and know we need to take things step by step. It’s now a matter of waiting for Tuesday and hoping we can leave everything all on the pitch and hoping for a good result.”
Here is the full MLS Best XI:
2020 MLS Best XI
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Defenders: Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Diego Chará (Portland Timbers), Nicolás Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC), Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC)
Forwards: Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Diego Rossi (Los Angeles Football Club), Raúl Ruidíaz (Seattle Sounders FC).
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