Seattle Sounders re-sign Nicolás Lodeiro, but roster on the verge of looking younger in 2021

Seattle Sounders Nicolás Lodeiro MLS Cup

Seattle, Washington — There were whispers the last couple weeks, but nothing official. Would Nicolás Lodeiro stay or would he leave Seattle, maybe for a return to his home country of Uruguay. Now, Seattle Sounders fans can rest easy: Lodeiro is staying in the Emerald City through the 2023 season.

The club announced on Wednesday night that Lodeiro had re-signed through the 2023 season. Simply put, according to general manager Garth Lagerwey, the team wanted to avoid waiting until the last minute to work out a deal.

“We wanted to avoid a situation where we were entering the last year of that contract,” Lagerwey said. “We’re very excited to have him back… Obviously, he’s been the cornerstone of our franchise since 2016. Everything’s been built around him. I thought he had another fantastic season, so we’re super excited and grateful to have Nico back for three more years.”

Lodeiro was one of three Sounders players to be named to the MLS Best XI of the 2020 season. He earned the honor along teammates with Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris. In 2020, Lodeiro produced seven goals and 10 assists. Lodeiro started all 20 appearances for the Sounders, and in the postseason he added four more starts in four matches.

In four post-season games, Lodeiro recorded three assists and one goal.

“I am certainly very, very happy that Nico has decided to end his best playing years here with our club,” Brian Schmetzer, Sounders head coach, said. “That is something the team is going to build on next season.”

The Sounders roster heading into 2021

… Is going to look different.

Seattle is a bit money-tight right now. The club announced offseason moves this week, including some shocking decisions to let some veterans walk. However, the Sounders are allowed to negotiate. Right now, they’re doing that with João Paulo.

The Brazilian was on loan with the Sounders. A South American outlet reported that João Paulo had signed for two seasons. However, Lagerwey did not confirm the report.

“Our intention is to try and bring JP back,” Lagerwey said. “I believe that he wants to come back. Those discussions are ongoing. It involves Botafogo in Brazil, so it’s not as straightforward as simply we and JP agreeing, but I think he had a very good first year.”

Meanwhile, fans could have seen the last match in green for defender Kelvin Leerdam, midfielder Gustav Svensson and all-around versatile player Joevin Jones.

Jones had his option declined, while Leerdam and Svensson are currently on the Re-Entry wire. Seattle’s roster could be a lot younger next year, but Lagerwey is not concerned — or calling it a re-building phase.

“By no means is this a rebuild,” Lagerwey said. “Can [our prospects] make meaningful contributions now? Instead of going out and signing an experience pro from Europe or South America, you are getting increased contributions from those kids as part of the solution. That helps us through this patch where we have a ton of money tied up in fewer and fewer players as a result of unmitigated success where, correctly, those good players have performed well and they’ve hit bonuses and they’ve been paid more money in accordance with their performance.

Status of Brian Schmetzer’s contract

Not only are the players and their agents in contact with the Sounders about contracts, but the coach is too.

Brian Schmetzer is up for a new contract. During Wednesday’s press conference, Schmetzer and Lagerwey both felt confident that the two-time MLS Cup winning coach would lead the Sounders again next season — and for years to come.

“I’ve always said I hope to be back,” Schmetzer said. “We don’t have a deal yet, but I know Garth and my representatives have been talking about it, so I’m hopeful that we can get something done. It’s something that both sides are willing to try and make a push to get it done. It’s getting a little late in the year, but I think everybody has the same goals in mind to try and push it over the finish line.”