Leo Gonzalez returns to Costa Rica after signing contract with CS Herediano

Veteran defender Leo Gonzalez has officially re-joined CS Herediano, ensuring the longtime Sounders FC stalwart will end his career in his native Costa Rica after seven seasons in Seattle.

CS Herediano made the announcement on Tuesday, bringing the 35-year-old San Jose, Costa Rica native back to the club where began his professional career in 2000. Gonzalez played with Herediano for eight years until he ultimately joined the Sounders midway through their inaugural MLS campaign in 2009.

At the close of last season, Gonzalez was one of just four players remaining from the team’s first season in 2009, but the club opted not to pick up his option earlier this month. Gonzalez appeared in 137 regular season games – third in club history – and another 13 in the playoffs over seven seasons for the Sounders. He was also named the club’s Defender of the Year in 2013.

After the Sounders opted not to renew his contract, Gonzalez went unselected following this year’s MLS Re-Entry Draft and recently told a media outlet in Costa Rica that he would not return to MLS if he did not resign with the Sounders. GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey acknowledged earlier this month that Gonzalez’s role with the team went beyond his performance on the pitch, as he spoke of both the left back and his fellow Sounders original Zach Scott, who’s future also remains uncertain this offseason.

“It’s their contributions that you measure both on the field and off the field,” Lagerwey said. “It’s part of who we are and part of how we’ve connected with our community. We owe those guys a tip of the cap and as much respect as we can pay them, whether they wind up continuing with their playing careers or doing something else.”

Gonzalez finished his career in Seattle with two goals and four assists, perhaps none more memorable than a picture-perfect finish to cap a 3-0 romp over FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field on June 13.

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