Ozzie Alonso 140223
Joshua Kelly

Alonso returns to hallowed Charleston ground that helped start his pro career

Under normal circumstances, if Osvaldo Alonso scores a big goal, he isn’t one to hold back on the celebration.

His majestic strike on Saturday night in the Carolina Challenge Cup hardly came under normal circumstances though. Instead of dancing with his atypically ecstatic smile plastered across his face after his jaw-dropping goal in the 25th minute of a 2-1 win over the Charleston Battery, he simply accepted congratulations from his teammates and trotted back to his defensive half.

It wasn’t that he wasn’t excited about the goal. It was just that he wanted to show as much respect as possible to the Battery and the city of Charleston, where he burst onto the American soccer scene in 2008.

“I didn’t celebrate because this is the team that gave me the chance to play professionally,” Alonso said after the match. “It’s always hard to score against your old team.”

Alonso had pressed forward into the box a few moments earlier, showing a more offensive edge. In the 25th minute, a corner kick popped out to Alonso at the top of the box. He chested the ball to control it, then rocketed a volley past the Charleston goalkeeper from 22 yards out, giving Sounders FC the 1-0 lead.

The flash of brilliance was no fluke, though.

Alonso is looking to add a more offensive element to his game in 2014 after establishing himself as the premier defensive midfielders in MLS through his first five seasons with Seattle. Now with an eye toward a more well-rounded game, he is working on timing runs forward and taking opportunistic chances when they come.

“I’m trying to score more, trying to shoot more this year,” Alonso said. “I tried to do the best for my team and when I have the opportunity to score, I try to score. It helps the team to win, so I’m happy to score a goal.”

That goal, and the fight in earning a 2-1 victory over a feisty Charleston club, were encouraging to Head Coach Sigi Schmid, though he did say afterward that he would like to see more cohesion from his team as the first match of the 2014 season on March 8 against Sporting Kansas City rapidly approaches.

“He scored a great goal. It was a great shot from the top of the box,” Schmid said. “As our team moves forward, our understanding of each other is going to grow better. It is games like this that will help that grow.”

Seattle will have two more opportunities to strengthen that on-field chemistry with matches against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday and D.C. United on March 1 to finish out the Carolina Challenge Cup.

Those who didn’t play on Saturday will also see time in a training game against the College of Charleston on Sunday morning.