There are few in Major League Soccer who play like Osvaldo Alonso.
In Seattle, however, they may have found his skillset doppelganger in Servando Carrasco.
Drafted 27th overall in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft in January, Carrasco was thrilled with the opportunity to come to Seattle. A product of the University of California-Berkley, Carrasco had been to Seattle before to face the University of Washington and loved the city and the tremendous support of the Sounders organization.
After training briefly with the team in the summer, he also loved the play of Alonso, seeing many similarities in their styles of play.
So when his name was called on draft day, he was already thrilled with the opportunity.
Compared by Sigi Schmid and Chris Henderson to Alonso for his ability to be a defensive force in the midfield while still maintaining an offensive threat, Carrasco has already started to fit in with the team. Maybe it’s his outgoing attitude. Or his ability to blend on the field with a group that is accustomed to a player like Alonso who is fierce in his competitiveness in the midfield. Or maybe it is his sheer love of the game that is apparent each time he steps on the field.
Regardless of the reason, Carrasco is working his way into the regular rotation in training.
Doing it while watching Alonso has been a benefit for him, too.
“I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to defending and attacking. I bring both sides of the game, a lot like Osvaldo,” Carrasco said. “I’m extremely excited to be playing next to him or with him because I know I’m going to be able to learn so much.”
Carrasco is no stranger to studying the game. In college, he regularly watched film of Pep Guardiola, Javier Mascherano and Xavi Alonso, applying their techniques to his own game to build his abilities. With the Golden Bears, he notched 13 goals and 13 assists in four seasons, highlighted by a seven-goal, three-assist ouput his senior season and three goals and seven assists as a sophomore.
He points to a week he spent training in Seattle in the summer as another reason for his heightened level of play in his final college season.
“To see what the next level was all about really helped me my senior year,” he said. “I learned so much here in just one week, I can’t wait to see what I can learn in a year or two. It’s such a great opportunity and I’m going to make the best of it.”
In Seattle, the coaches envision him to be cover for Alonso, providing them with an option to use in US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches that doesn’t require much of a change in approach to the middle of the midfield.
Born in San Diego, Carrasco frequently moved between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, where his parents were born and raised. The possibility of playing in the Champions League also means a chance to potentially play in Mexico. He lights up at the proposition, but still maintains that the location of the field and the magnitude of the match don’t matter to him as much as simply seeing the field.
“To be honest, I’m just looking forward to playing,” he said. “Whether it’s here or Mexico. I just want to get on the field and make a difference and help the team win. If it’s in CONCACAF or in league or in reserves, I don’t really care. I just want to step on the field and truly make a difference for the team.”