With the preseason starting yesterday, we go over our January conversation with Lodeiro on the importance of learning from their disappointing 2020 finally in Columbus, as he also laid out for the very first time his thoughts on staying in Seattle
It was only two months ago, on a cold December night at MAPFRE Stadium, that Seattle took the field as Western Conference Champs, with an opportunity to win a third MLS title and perhaps raise the status of a club already at an elite level to a dynasty. Once the initial whistle blew, it was the Crew that dominated over a 90-minute stretch, scoring three unanswered goals and the rest is history.
Seeing the home team celebrate, hearing the fireworks go off from the locker room as Columbus lifted the Cup, it’s something every Sounders player there that night had to live with all off-season. That said, getting over not reaching the ultimate goal after a hard-fought season can be difficult but turning the page from a lack luster performance where as a team, there was a clear inability to match Columbus’s intensity, tempo and mistakes were made, proves to be more complicated.
For Nicolas Lodeiro, that internal battle has already been settled but it was not easy and he was candid when talking about the game with Pulso Sports. “Now that I have time to analyze the game with a clear head, after it happened, I can say we were not ourselves in that final to be honest”, said Nico.
“We had a very good tournament (MLS Season), had great moment’s against quality teams and in the final we just could not find our game. And whenever you don’t go into a final convinced, you make a lot of mistakes and things don’t go your way, the other team gets plenty of confidence”.
The Rave Green certainly had several rare defensive woes and despite highlighting an evident lack of concentration as a significant factor for the loss, it did not stop him from praising Columbus for simply being the better team that night. Lodeiro gave credit to the opponents, admitting that during the first 45 minutes the Crew capitalized on their opportunities, nearly putting the game out of reach early and summarized it by saying “They were fair winners for what they did, especially in the first half”.
Yes, the Sounders have been in this position before, starting a new season after losing the most important game of the season given the expectations of defending a championship. From the outside looking in, it would appear their last defeat could have left a bigger mark. Nico did not agree, although he admitted it some time to turn the page, he did not think putting it behind was any more difficult than the defeats he has dealt with before.
“As soccer players we know this is what the game is about and there is always a rematch”, said Lodeiro with confidence. “After we lost the final in 2017 to Toronto, in 2018 we also lose a series at home on a shoot-out and we did not let that affect us, came out with everything we had in 2019 and were able to once again win a championship”
Although Nico did not hide that it took him several weeks to even talk about the loss, he is now focused on learning from it and using it to give his team an edge. It is clear that regardless of how many unanswered questions the Sounders have to face in 2021, the legendary number 10 is ready to not only to face the season but also has every bit of confidence he can once again reach an MLS Cup.
Lodeiro signs a contract extension through 2023
It is that winning mentality which made the decision of securing Lodeiro long term a priority last year and something Sounders were able to do by locking him to a three-year contract with no club option for an additional one as it is common. The Uruguayan shared that his extension was done before the Playoffs but everything was kept behind closed doors to ensure it was not a distraction but was extremely happy when it got done.
“The truth is that it’s great to have peace of mind, have security, knowing I’d be back with a club where I am happy to be at, where people appreciate me and they have given me all their love”, it is how Lodeiro expressed his joy of reaching that extension.
Nicolas has made Seattle his home. Since his arrival he has always been forward about his love for the organization as well as the fan base, making this deal a defining moment in the legacy that he and the club continue to build. With three more years now guaranteed, Lodeiro’s main objective over that period of time is putting more silverware in the Sounders display case.
“I am not satisfied with what we have accomplished, it’s great to look back at the past, the journey behind us and think about what you’ve been able to do but looking at the future I want to achieve so much more”, said Nico, who added that he is not thinking too far ahead and wants to look at his time with the Sounders one year at a time.
Simply thinking about everything he had to endure last season, “El Capitan Esmeralda” is anxious to start the season, not only to get back on the field but also about enjoying aspects of the game that perhaps before the pandemic went unnoticed.