Osvaldo Alonso’s wife had seen the comments on websites back in Seattle. The Sounders FC midfielder was in London, training with West Ham United, and was a bit surprised to learn that fans in Seattle were concerned about losing him to the English Premier League club.
A move to London, he said, was never the intent of the week-long training stint.
“My goal was to train there. If something happened, we’d look at that, but my goal was just to train and get better for the start of the season,” Alonso said from the Sounders FC’s training complex at Starfire this week. “I’m here. I love Seattle.”
For the second time in three years, Alonso ventured to England to train with a middle of the table team from the Premier League.
In the winter before the 2011 season, Alonso trained at Everton, who would go on to finish seventh in the Premier League at 13-10-15. This time around, he trained with West Ham United, who currently sit 11th through 20 matches at 7-8-5.
With David Moyes at Everton and Sam Allardyce at West Ham, Alonso got instruction and a watchful eye from two managers with over 300 career wins each in England’s top flight.
“It was good. It was a good experience to train there and improve myself to come back to MLS,” said Alonso. “They train very hard every day because they need to win every game.”
Alonso pointed to his experience at Everton before the 2011 season as a key point for his growth at that point in his career and hopes to see a similar jump in his training level after training with West Ham. His first training stint, he said, had him better ready for Sounders FC training camp, which starts on January 21 this year.
“It’s better for my rhythm,” he said. “I started the preseason strong and ready for training camp.”
Through four seasons, Alonso leads the Sounders in MLS minutes played and minutes across all competitions. In 2012, he had one goal and two assists in 30 MLS matches, bringing his career total to six goals and 11 assists in 113 league appearances.
Along the way, he blossomed from cult hero, appreciated by Sounders FC fans while remaining outside the national spotlight, to one of the top players in the league.
After earning MLS All-Star nods in 2011 and 2012, he was named MLS Best XI last year and was also named the U.S. Open Cup Player of the Tournament after leading the Sounders to their fourth consecutive Open Cup final with four goals and two assists in four matches in 2012. In each of the last three seasons, the club has named him Most Valuable Player.
The appreciation from the fans, shown in no small part when those fans were concerned about losing Alonso, is part of the reason he is as firm about staying in Seattle as he is about dispossessing players who dare venture into the middle of the park.“They love me here and they want me here,” he said. “I’m very happy for that – I’m happy to be here where the fans love me. In Seattle.”