Nico Lodeiro to the rescue again for Sounders in draw with Earthquakes
It was always going to be tough to go a place in which the Sounders hadn’t won in six years, but Seattle faced an uphill battle for much of its road match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. Poor defending, especially by right-back Tyrone Mears, gave away a silly goal to the home side, and the Sounders had to constantly push and push until they eventually found the net through a Nicolas Lodeiro free kick that avoided every head in the box to fly into the corner of the net and salvage a point for Seattle.
Considering everything that surrounds the Sounders right now, a draw is pretty acceptable, if not ideal. It’s been a season in turmoil for Seattle and, just when it seemed like things were turning around under Brian Schmetzer, the news of Clint Dempsey’s medical concerns snatched away one of the most important cogs in the Sounders’ revolution.
The only thing keeping the Sounders alive and clinging to hopes of a playoff run right now is their newest player, Lodeiro. If he’s not directly involved with the creating, assisting or scoring of goals, he’s distracting players by the twos and threes to allow his teammates to get comfortable cushions of space elsewhere on the pitch. Against San Jose, his excellent free kick (somehow) found its way into the net and saved Seattle’s blushes – yet again.
One of the things I’ve harped about this season is the importance of pulling wins and draws out of nowhere when your team seemingly hasn’t played well enough to deserve a result. The Sounders were utterly unable to do it early in the season, and were duly embarrassed when the Colorado Rapids came to town and snatched a win despite being outplayed, outpassed and outshot. Now, the Sounders have a player who turns losses into draws, and draws into wins.
In his very first match against LA, Lodeiro’s work in the box eventually led to Cristian Roldan’s goal that earned the Sounders a point in the standings. Against Real Salt Lake, Lodeiro scored one goal and assisted the other for a 2-1 win for Seattle. In the very tough road match in Houston in late August, Lodeiro found Joevin Jones for a late goal that saved a point, and playoff hopes, for the Sounders. His goal against San Jose cements his status as the Sounders’ savior this season.
The real question will be, is it enough? Can Lodeiro drag a somewhat imbalanced squad missing a key component (Dempsey) into the playoffs? It won’t be easy, but if Lodeiro plays as well – or better – as he has so far, it’s not a ridiculous notion. The away matches in Portland and San Jose were always going to be some of the hardest, and they’ve only got two more road games that could prove difficult (Vancouver on Oct. 2 and Dallas on Oct. 16).
If Lodeiro and Seattle can squeeze draws or wins in those matches, and win the rest of their relatively (knock on wood) easy home matches, the playoffs are still very much possible. Lodeiro’s teammates also need to step up and complement him rather than just wait for him to produce a bit of magic on the pitch. But even if they don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lodeiro comes to Seattle’s rescue once again in 2016.