MLS Cup Comparison: Sebastian Giovinco and Nicolas Lodeiro

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FRISCO, TX - NOVEMBER 06: Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (10) makes a long pass during the MLS playoff match between the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas on November 6, 2016, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX. FC Dallas defeats Seattle 2-1. Seattle advances on aggregate. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sebastian Giovinco and Nicolas Lodeiro are two very similar players. Both arrived in MLS with a bang and turned their respective team’s fortunes around. They both took teams that looked rather bleak and made them into playoff, and eventually MLS Cup, contenders. Both of them make every player around them better. Both were named MLS Newcomer of the Year when they came to the league.

MLS Cup Comparison: Sebastian Giovinco and Nicolas Lodeiro

In truth, despite the similar results, they are very different players. Their teammates are better off for them, but for entirely different reasons. Giovinco is a scoring threat any time he touches the ball while Lodeiro is very strong at setting up his teammates.

The two will now take their electrifying styles against each other in MLS Cup on Saturday as Giovinco’s Toronto FC hosts Lodeiro’s Seattle Sounders. But, which would you rather have? Let’s make the case for each one.

Sebastian Giovinco- Shooting Machine

Sebastian Giovinco came to Toronto before the 2015 season. He came to a team that had never been to the playoffs, but was in the process of building one fantastic team. Together with Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, he helped put Toronto FC on the MLS map with their first playoff appearance last season. After a quick exit, the trio get even stronger this year and led them to the third best record in the Eastern Conference, a dominating performance over second seeded New York City in the conference semis, and a thrilling comeback over Montreal Impact in the East final.

Giovinco is one of, if not the most, exciting goalscorer in MLS. While he hasn’t been the all powerful force he usually is against Montreal, the rest of his season stats speak for themselves. He was third in the regular season with 17 goals. He has added four more, including a hat trick at Yankee Stadium, in the playoffs. He takes an average of six and a half shots every 90 minutes on the field. That’s more than any other MLS player with at least 20 appearances.

Last year he won the Golden Boot, Newcomer of the Year, and MVP. He was often quoted as being too good for MLS. While he fell down to third in the goal scoring race this year, he was still the same talent that is far better than this league is used to seeing.

Nicolas Lodeiro- Passing Enthusiast

Lodeiro arrived in Seattle just before their season turned around. When he go there, the Sounders were a far cry from the championship contending team we se now. They were in ninth place in the Western Conference and the talk was about how their playoff streak would likely come to an end in the fall. They had no focus on the attack and had recently played a match in Houston where they only took one shot in total.

Then Lodeiro arrived. He was the missing link that gave the attack life. Seattle’s goal scoring shot up. The team went from scoring a goal per game in 20 games without him on the team to 1.6 per game in the 14 games since. Lodeiro only scored eight times, but his real danger was his ability to set up teammates. The one he made noticeably stronger was Jordan Morris. Three of those five assists set up goals by the eventual MLS Rookie of the Year. He did most of this work without Clint Dempsey in the lineup. The two only played three games together and were fantastic. One can only imagine the destruction the two would create together over a long period of time.

He averaged 58 total passes per 90 minutes with a success rate of 77.1%. Of those passes, 2.67 directly set up a shot by one of his teammates. While he only accumulated five assists, he was always able to get his teammates into a position to create a goal. Those aren’t Sacha Kljestan numbers, but they are top ten in the league. As Giovinco was last season, Lodeiro was named MLS Newcomer of the Year this time around.

Who Means More?

Both Sebastian Giovinco and Nicolas Lodeiro will be key figures in Saturday’s title match. It’s safe to assume that whichever one has the better game will be on the winning team. As for which one is more important to their team? I think Giovinco is the more skilled player, but I would have to say Lodeiro is more important to his side. Seattle were nothing before he arrived and new head coach Brian Schmetzer took over. He is a major reason the rest of his team is playing so well, especially Jordan Morris. Nobody on Seattle’s roster is capable of taking his place with the same effect.

Giovinco, while certainly one of the best players in the league, has a lot more help around him. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and the entire Toronto attack is still a threat with him out of the lineup. Remember in the second leg when Toronto hammered the Impact 5-2 in extra time? Both extra time goals came after Giovinco was subbed off. So, if something should happen to him, I’m sure Toronto will be fine.

Either way, if you are watching MLS Cup looking for an exciting player on each team, you don’t need to look any further than Sebastian Giovinco and Nicolas Lodeiro.

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