Alonso pleased with progress MLS is making but focusing on Sounders
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Seattle's newest Designated Player, Osvaldo Alonso ready to live up to the expectations that come with the tag.
There have been some headline-grabbing additions in Major League Soccer this year, but they haven’t just been tremendous goal scorers that have commanded high salaries and increased the league's exposure.
With Michael Bradley in Toronto and Maurice Edu in Philadelphia, the holding midfield role is becoming more and more in demand. Although he will inevitably be compared with the two U.S. National Teamers, Sounders FC mainstay Osvaldo Alonso is focused only on how he can help Seattle turn around a disappointing finish to the 2013 season and not his individual standing on the MLS landscape.
“Big players are coming to MLS, but I have to focus on myself and my team,” Alonso said. “I appreciate that players are coming here to play. It’s good for the league, but I have to play my game. I do the best for my team and focus on myself.”
That introspective stance has meant good things for Sounders FC in Alonso’s five years with the club. He is a four-time team MVP, three-time MLS All-Star and was on the MLS Best XI in 2012. He has helped Seattle reach the playoffs in five straight seasons and four straight U.S. Open Cup finals – though he played in five consecutive Open Cup finals after leading the USL’s Charleston Battery to the brink of upsetting D.C. United for the title in 2008.
This year has already been different for Alonso, though. Typically quite reserved off the field – a stark contrast to his bulldog persona on the field – Alonso has taken on more responsibility with the team this year. When the club added Guatemalan midfielder Marco Pappa, Alonso was quick to take him under his wing and make sure that he had someone to talk with to help get acquainted with his new club.
“I’m very happy to be here and to keep playing here. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the United States,” Alonso said. “When new people come in, we have to give them our best so they can join the team well and we have to be a family.”
Part of those efforts comes from Alonso’s feeling that Seattle is home and can be for his teammates, too. A bigger part comes from his desire to make Sounders FC an MLS Cup winning side. To do that, the team needs some of the harmony that lacked in 2013.
That discord had the team on edge and Alonso reached his tipping point on the field in at least one occasion. Now pressed with a greater role within the team, Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said he expects more on-field maturity.
“Ozzie’s really taken a step up this year,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “I know some of the situation last year is behind him, so he’s really stepped in there.”
A consummate worker, Alonso is looking to instill that mentality in his teammates.
Thus far in preseason, he has played 105 minutes over two matches without allowing a goal. That approach needs to permeate the team to find the success Seattle seeks and there is no better individual to set the tone than Alonso.
“We have to work hard to win the championship. From the beginning to the end. We have to train hard and give everything you have. We’re together for everything,” he said. “We have to prepare good this year. We’ve wanted to give to the fans and for us to win the trophy. That’s what we have to put in our mind. This is the year we have to win it.”