Before their match against DC United, Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid challenged Osvaldo Alonso to shut down Dwayne De Rosario.
The reigning MLS MVP is the most important cog in the DC offense. Shutting him down would make the lives of the Sounders much easier in their first road test of the season.
From the opening minutes of the game, Alonso made it known that it would not be an easy night for De Rosario, clamping down like a vice grip on the dynamic playmaker and cutting off the DC attack before it could develop through the middle of the field.
“I thought he did a good job of shutting him down,” Schmid said.
In the match, Alonso had 12 recoveries, 10 interceptions and seven tackles won. He led the league in all three categories on Saturday’s games. And while players around the league have approached those numbers in individual categories, nobody was close in all three.
As dominating as those figures are – and they are not far off his averages of 11.5 recoveries, five interceptions and five tackles won per game – the numbers only scratch the surface when telling the tale of Alonso’s importance to the Sounders.
Teams alter their game-plans to keep the ball away from Alonso. And on Saturday night, De Rosario moved out of the midfield and into a second striker’s role just to push DC’s top playmaker into a different area of the field than the league’s most menacing presence.
De Rosario was visibly frustrated throughout the match and even offered a retaliatory stomp on Alonso after one instance when Alonso dispossessed him. But even that couldn’t slow the 26-year-old Cuban and he came back to continue his mastery of De Rosario in the second half.
That midfield dominance has been one of the reasons Alonso has been a fan favorite since joining the team in 2009 and the team’s MVP in 2010 and 2011.
Next, Alonso and the Sounders will shift their attention to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at 1 pm at CenturyLink Field, where the Sounders will look to improve on their 2-1-1 record this season.