Nicolas Lodeiro washed up on the shores of MLS on July 27, with the Seattle Sounders in ninth place in the Western Conference, 10 points adrift of the sixth and final playoff place.
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In short summation, the 2016 season was rapidly becoming a lost cause in the Emerald City, with Sigi Schmid, the only head coach of the MLS era (2009-present), relieved of his duties just 24 hours earlier. In the eyes of the PST staff, no newcomer to MLS impacted his team in 2016 quite like the Uruguayan, as four of five writers selected Lodeiro, 27, the 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year.
Lodeiro’s four goals and eight assists in 13 regular-season saw the Sounders finish the season with eight wins (plus four draws) in their final 14 games, finish fourth in the West, and ride that late-season wave into Tuesday’s conference finals first leg against the Colorado Rapids.
In three playoff games thus far, Lodeiro has bagged three more goals through 16 MLS games played, which leaves the following to consider: had he signed for the Sounders prior to the 2016 season, 1) would they have been contenders for the Supporters’ Shield, and 2) would he have contented for the MVP award? The likeliest answers to the above questions are, yes and yes. Look out, 2017.
LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme finished second in Newcomer of the Year voting among the PST staff, garnering a single first-place vote, while Lodeiro nabbed the four of five.