TUKWILA — The MLS secondary transfer window opened this week, kicking off another rumor regarding Sounders midfielder Nico Lodeiro.
The Uruguayan, who initially signed with the Sounders as a designated player in 2016 from Argentine club Boca Juniors, received a contract extension with Seattle through 2021, earning about $2.5 million this season.
But communications remain open between Lodeiro and his former club, which is located in Buenos Aires — an approximate 10-hour drive from his Uruguayan hometown. He reportedly told his agent to work a deal to bring him back and didn’t dispute the claim following practice Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex.
A Sounders spokesperson shot down any chance Lodeiro would be transferred this season. At minimum, Boca Juniors would have to buy out Lodeiro’s current contract.
Some of Lodeiro’s interview in English on Thursday needed Spanish translation through a Sounders official.
“It’s always good when the other club is talking about me,” Lodeiro said in English. “It’s very important, this (makes) me more comfortable to show my football in every train session or every game.”
Lodeiro expressed similar sentiments in March 2018 and again in January of this year.
“Earlier this year there were several reports of a possible to return to Boca,” Lodeiro told Sounder at Heart last year. “To be honest, it made me very happy. ... I think Boca is a wonderful team to whom you cannot say no and there is always a desire to play there again because I have great affection for that fan base as well as for the club and it’s magnitude.”
In January, he told mlssoccer.com: “Without a doubt, if the rumors were true, I would leave. One would really want to go to Boca, especially since it’s such a big club.”
However, later that month, Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey told mlssoccer.com that the team hadn’t received any offers for Lodeiro.
It’s not known how much money Lodeiro is still owed on his Sounders contract. The transfer window is open through Aug. 7.
Lodeiro, who’s the Sounders’ all-time leader in assists, lives in the Seattle area with his family, and his son makes a regular appearance in the locker room after games at CenturyLink Field. Lodeiro is an integral part of the club’s tactical scheme.
“I’m happy (here),” Lodeiro said. “I’ve enjoyed Seattle with my family, but in football, you never know what will happen in the end.”
Back to the bench?
Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz joined practice Thursday as expected. Aside from Joevin Jones returning and then leaving to be present for the birth of his child, Ruidiaz is the last of the club’s players to report back from national team call-ups.
Jones will be available for selection Sunday, giving Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer the most options he’s had in a month. Given the positive performance of new signees like forward Justin Dhillon from the Tacoma Defiance, those choices are also more difficult.
“We’ll take a look at the physical health of the guys returning, that’ll play a big part of it,” Schmetzer said of the starting lineup against Atlanta. “There’s lots of nuances there. ... I’ll use the hot kid, Danny Leyva. Should he start? You could make an argument for that.”
Leyva, 16, became the third-youngest player in MLS history to start a match when he was selected at midfield against the Columbus Crew last week. He did draw the foul that allowed the Crew to score in the opening half, but played the full 90 minutes in the eventual 2-1 win.
Lodeiro was fined an undisclosed amount for “simulation/embellishment” during the Columbus match last week. In the 81st minute, there was shoving between players after a rough tackle and video replays show Lodeiro dropping to the field, covering his face and rolling around in apparent pain.
He played the full 90 minutes, scoring both goals in Seattle’s win.
The MLS Disciplinary Committee announced the fine Wednesday.
Sounders forward Will Bruin underwent successful surgery on his right knee Tuesday, the team announced. Bruin, 29, suffered the torn ACL injury during practice in June and will be out the remainder of the season.
Bruin had two goals and one assist in nine appearances, starting four times in place of Ruidiaz when the latter had a foot injury.