The Seattle Sounders pulled off a narrow 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Tuesday night via a very familiar method: a Nico Lodeiro penalty.
Lodeiro stepped up in the 39th minute, sending Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Paes the wrong way and firing low into the back of the net.
The Uruguay international's goal delivered a priceless victory for the Sounders, who climbed into sixth and above the MLS Cup Playoff line. Even more remarkable is that Lodeiro is now 18 for 18 when it comes to penalties in MLS regular-season play.
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Surely, Lodeiro must study long and hard on goalkeeper habits, knowing which way his opponent prefers to dive on any given matchday?
“No, I study my brain, and focus on my legs and feet,” Lodeiro said. “When I take the penalty kicks with my teammates in training, I always focus on my confidence and try to have the same on the field in a game. When I take the goal, I feel confident. I know maybe the keeper can save the ball, but when you shoot with confidence, you have more chances to score.”
Lodeiro set the MLS record for most regular-season penalties scored with a 100 percent record when he dispatched his 14th in 2020. It's going to be difficult for anyone to catch the 33-year-old now.
“I’m very impressed. Now, I don’t want to miss," Lodeiro said of his personal record.
Tuesday's performance wasn't vintage Sounders. They had to work extra hard to overcome Dallas, who could have easily equalized on another day.
But then, Seattle went into the match on a run of five defeats in their last seven MLS matches. With confidence and pride bruised, all that really mattered was picking up the win in any way possible.
“The performance probably wasn’t up to our standard,” midfielder Albert Rusnak reflected. “At this point in the season and with the good amount of losses in the last few games that we’ve played, it was all about winning, getting three points, moving up in the table and we did that.”