Each year, inevitably, some of the top talent in Major League Soccer find themselves listed among players rumored to have interest from clubs in Europe.
This year is not expected to be any different for the Sounders FC after they finished second in MLS at 18-7-9. However, none of the players asked about potential flirtations from European clubs seemed to have interest in doing anything but playing in the rave green at CenturyLink Field.
Fredy Montero, 24, scored 12 goals and nine assists in 2011 to bring his three-year MLS totals to 34 goals and 26 assists. In each of his three seasons, rumors of potential overseas suitors have been as frequent as his fist-pumping goal celebrations.
Over those three seasons, he’s also grown an affinity toward Seattle and their supporters and said this week that he has no plans to leave.
“I’m so proud to be a Sounder,” Montero said. “If offers are coming and it would definitely be better for my family and my future, I have to think about it. We have to be focused on what is good for me. But I’m happy here in Seattle.”
Midfield sensation Mauro Rosales can also be counted on that list. After playing for storied clubs Ajax in Holland and River Plate in Argentina, where he also played with Newell’s Old Boys, Rosales was impressed with the support and success in Seattle. He is a favorite for MLS Newcomer of the Year after posting five goals and a club-record 13 assists in his first MLS season. Though his contract expired after this season, he has said that he expects to sign an extension soon and the Sounders have also stated an intention to keep him here in the long-term.
“I want to be here for a long time. Seattle is my team,” he said. “We had a successful year, but now I am coming next year with more expectations to be a better team.”
Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle’s defensive midfield sensation, enjoyed perhaps his best season in MLS in 2011. Alonso, 25, trained with Everton in England last off-season and would be open to that sort of opportunity again, but when asked if MLS was the right place for him, he was emphatic that Seattle was his home right now.
“I’m still here in Seattle and I’m happy here,” he said. “If, in the future, there’s a different opportunity that could be the right moment, but for now, I’m happy here.”
Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez showed in 2011 why the Sounders were so keen to offer him a contract 18 months earlier, scoring nine goals in his first full season with Seattle. At 26, he is still a staple on the Uruguay National Team when healthy and is the type of player who would draw interest from several leagues around the world.
He, too, is much more apt to build on what the team has developed in Seattle.
“I’m very happy here in Seattle. I would be very happy to stay here, I’m planning to stay here,” he said. “Each year I feel a little more comfortable and I’m looking forward to the season.”
The Sounders FC will start the 2012 season a bit ahead of the normal schedule with a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal pairing with Santos Laguna of Mexico. That two-leg, aggregate-goal series will open at CenturyLink Field on March 6, 7, or 8.