When the Seattle Sounders take on the Charleston Battery on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT in the Sounders’ first match of the Carolina Challenge Cup, midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will compete against his former club for the second time since leaving in 2008.
Alonso spent only one season with the Battery after three years with Pinar del Rio in his native Cuba, from which he defected in 2007, but he still fondly remembers his time there.
“It was good,” Alonso said. “It was my first club here in the U.S. Playing with them gave me a great boost to come to MLS.”
Alonso joined the Sounders in 2009 for the club’s inaugural MLS season, and he has become arguably the league’s best ever defensive midfielder. He and Brad Evans are the only remaining Sounders' originals from the 2009 season.
Since Charleston still competes in the USL and the Sounders never play competitively against the Battery, Alonso is just as excited to return this year as he was when the Sounders competed in the same preseason tournament in 2014. Alonso scored in the 25th minute in a 2-1 Sounders win over the Battery. He chested down a ball outside the box and fired a shot into the upper corner.
Alonso’s favorite memory of his brief time in Charleston was leading the team to the 2008 U.S. Open Cup Final. The Battery knocked out MLS clubs Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas before coincidentally defeating the then-USL Sounders in the semifinals. The Battery fell 2-1 to D.C. United in the championship match, but the run and his time there still resonate with him.
It”s not yet determined whether Alonso will play in the Carolina Challenge Cup or if so, how much — he has been recovering from a knee problem and did not play in either preseason match in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month — but Saturday will still offer another sliver of reflection for the Sounders veteran.
“It’s always great to go back and see friends,” Alonso said. “It’s a nice city. I like the facilities, the stadium, the people around me [back then]. I’m very happy I played there.”