Osvaldo Alonso says knee is “100 percent,” looking forward to first full season as captain

TUKWILA, Wash. — When the Seattle Sounders’ 2017 Major League Soccer regular season kicks off on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo (5:30 p.m. PT | Matchcenter), veteran midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will wear the captain’s armband.

Alonso, who is entering his ninth season in Seattle, took over captain’s duties late last season, eventually leading the Sounders through the playoffs en route to their first MLS Cup title. With his first full season of captaincy ahead of him, Alonso doesn’t plan to change much of what he’s always done.

“It feels great,” Alonso said. “I got an opportunity to be the captain last year and lift the trophy, but now it’s a different year. I’ll do the same: give everything I have to win the game, make the playoffs and win the championship.”

Alonso has never been much of a vocal leader in the locker room or on the field, but he’s led constantly by example. One of the hardest-working defensive midfielders in the league, the Honey Badger had arguably his best professional season in 2016 and is ready to try and duplicate his output.

Alonso missed four of the Sounders’ six preseason matches, though, while recovering from a knee injury he suffered late in 2016. Alonso received injections prior to the MLS Cup Final, a match in which he played all 120 minutes and had to get injections before the match and at halftime, and has been rehabbing his knee all offseason. On Wednesday, Alonso called his knee “100 percent” and said he was ready to go against the Dynamo.

The Alonso-led Sounders will head to Houston trying to pick up where they left off last year, and the mindset heading into 2017 is clear.

“We know we are champions but we have to forget about it,” Alonso said. “It’s a new season.”