Early in the season Seattle fans went from wondering who the Cuban exile is, to instead knowing that not only was he a solid player from the USL-1 but another great defensive midfielder in the league. While yes, MLS has a lot of good holding/defensive midfielders, Alonso is one that still managed to stick out from that crowd. Guys like Beckerman, Joseph, Nagamura, Robinson, Pause, Simms, etc litter the league. While each has different skill sets they are all solid players at this level, and Alonso immediately joined them.
With tactics evolving at the highest level from the 4-4-2 and 4-4-2 diamond, into four band systems like the 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, and 4-4-1-1 (even the resurrected 3-2-3-2 of DC United) the abilities of Alonso may open up a tactical shift for the Sounders in 2010. His ability with the ball at his feet and vision displayed in passing may enable him to be a lesser Sharlie Joseph - a CDM who enters the attack frequently.
Offense: Osvaldo Alonso is likely the third or fourth best player on the Sounders with the ball at his own feet, able to beat opposing forwards and attacking midfielders. His passing vision leads to long, low diagonal passes, and he rarely just boots it up the pitch hoping for the speedy Sounders' wings to catch up to it. A bit tentative on the shot inside the 18, his willingness to shoot from outside has been displayed. I can't label him a strong outside shooter at this time, but I would love to see him take enough that we can find out.
Defense: Strong enough 1-on-1 skills that he can mark attacking midfielders in the central third preventing them from just advancing up the pitch. When the action is in that defensive third he offers a big enough body that he won't give something up in the air, and fast enough that in a compact formation he shuts down multiple passing lanes and interrupts the intended flow.
Set-Plays: During the offensive set Alonso is a guy that sits outside the box to prevent the quick counter, and maybe pickup slop and reinsert it. On kicks from distance he will occasionally be the taker so that all of the offensive players can get forward. On a set lay against the Sounders within their own third he will body up on the 2nd or 3rd most likely target.
Plus/Minus - 9 | 8
Plus/Minus Per 90 - 0.39 | 0.38
Productivity in League Play - 0.20
Productivity in Non-League - 0.19
Ratings from Prost Amerika - 6.66 (2nd)
Second +/- listed uses Climbing the Ladder's data.
Short Term Peak - Alonso still has yet to hit his peak and is already in the top third of Defensive Mids in MLS. He could reach an All-Star or Best XI in the future, though the question will be if he develops beyond just being a DM into a man like Joseph who does everything.
What are your thoughts on Alonso's future? Do you see his skill set as offering a different tactical formation than the 4-1-3-2 that Sounders currently run?