Nicolas Lodeiro, the attacking midfielder who just helped Argentina powerhouse Boca Juniors reach the semifinals of the prestigious Copa Libertadores club championship in South America, has signed with the Seattle Sounders as a designated player.
The 27-year-old Lodeiro also has 48 caps for the Uruguay national team, including this summer’s Copa America Centenario in the United States.
“Nicolas is going to be a tremendous presence for us going forward,” general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said. “Even five years ago, the thought that the playmaking midfielder for Boca Juniors, one of the biggest clubs in all of the Americas, would come and play in MLS in the prime of his career at age 27 was unbelievable.
“This is a game changer for us.”
Success has been elusive for the Sounders this season, as they lag near the bottom of the standings with a 6-12-2 record. Wednesday’s move was their second major one in 24 hours.
On Tuesday, the team announced it had parted ways with coach Sigi Schmid, who had been in charge since Seattle joined MLS in 2009. Longtime assistant Brian Schmetzer was named the interim head coach and was delighted to add Lodeiro to the roster in just his second day on the job.
“With the performance the Sounders typically have, they have always played in the playoff every season and are an important team in the MLS overall,” Lodeiro said through a translator during a press conference Wednesday. “That convinced me to come over here and be part of this project and be part of this team, and to help the team to continue to be successful.”
Pending the receipt of his P-1 visa and international transfer clearance, Lodeiro could be available as soon as Sunday when the Sounders host the Los Angeles Galaxy. “The decision of where I play is up to the coach,” he said. “The most important thing to me is to play with great players.”
With Clint Dempsey, rookie Jordan Morris and veteran Nelson Valdez up front, Sounders officials said adding an attacking midfielder was a priority.
“I’m very keen on getting Nico and Clint Dempsey together,” Schmetzer said about pairing the newcomer with the U.S. national team forward. “All the guys, I’m sure, are going to get a good burst of energy from Nico’s appearance with the club.
“It gives us new options. Nicolas is going to have a big impact on the team, on and off the field. He’s going to work hard, and he’s going to work smart.”
Loderio has played in three Copa Americas, including 2011 when Uruguay won it. He has been in two World Cups, helping the country finish fourth in 2010 and reach the round of 16 in 2014. He also was in the 2012 London Olympics.
Professionally, Lodeiro played three seasons with Uruguay’s Nacional, three seasons with Dutch side Ajax, two with Brazil’s Botafogo and one with Corinthians of Brazil. He joined Boca Juniors in 2015, scoring three goals.