clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maybe Osvaldo Alonso Is The Answer

New, 141 comments
Osvaldo Alonso wins balls from some of the best players in MLS. Seattle needs that and him back. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
Osvaldo Alonso wins balls from some of the best players in MLS. Seattle needs that and him back. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Yes, the streak of dropped points stretches from a time before the suspension of Osvaldo Alonso. It is also true that the Seattle Sounders won their first match of the year without Alonso. Against FC Dallas they deployed Andy Rose and won 2-0. The next two uses of Andy Rose in the nominal roll as a defensive mid didn't go so well. A draw and a loss against Chivas USA and the Montreal Impact respectively. In limited games in 2012 life without the Honey Badger isn't great. The 1-1-1 record and -1 Goal Differential isn't awful. In fact since it was all road games, it's a decent result. Seattle has bigger goals than decent.

And to be better than decent they need Alonso playing. In fact over the past three + MLS seasons Alonso hasn't started in 20 games. In those games the Sounders are a slightly better than average team earning a 9-7-4 +3 GD record. That's alright. It is not great. In matches with Alonso the team is bordering on great earning a 34-game adjusted total of 56 points (vs only 52.7 in matches without). It isn't a huge difference. But a enough of one to show us what the Cuban means to Seattle. It's the difference between three historical Supporters Shields and seven.

It may even go beyond just Osvaldo Alonso, but instead stretching to players that could be called primarily defensive in nature. Five players have filled in for Alonso as the stopper. From 2009 to the present those have been Patrick Ianni, Pete Vagenas, Nathan Sturgis, Servando Carrasco and Andy Rose. None played extensively, so there are sample size issues to the with/without you math. Looking at the chart below it is apparent that the best non-Alonso performance by the team was in 2011 with Carrasco as the CDM. He dedicated his time in the role to stopping counters and winning balls. He didn't get forward much, if at all.

Season

Games

GF

GFp

GA

GAp

GD

W

L

D

Pts

PPM

2012

3

4

1.33

5

1.67

-1

1

1

1

4

1.33

2011

4

8

2.00

4

1.00

4

3

0

1

10

2.50

2010

9

10

1.11

12

1.33

-2

3

5

1

10

1.11

2009

4

6

1.50

4

1.00

2

2

1

1

7

1.75

Total

20

28

1.40

25

1.25

3

9

7

4

31

1.55

SSFC Lifetime

114

153

1.34

130

1.14

23

52

32

30

186

1.63

Lifetime with

94

125

1.33

105

1.12

20

43

25

26

155

1.65

Non CDM

12

14

1.17

17

1.42

-3

4

6

2

14

1.17

That technique, the primary role of a defensive midfielder, helps make up for the fact that the wide mids play more like wingers, no matter who is there. Whether DPs Ljungerg, Fernandez and Rosales, or players like Le Toux, Nyassi, Estrada, Cato, Neagle and more those two roles play high on the pitch. It is part of why Seattle is a bit weak on the counter. It is also part of the reason who Alonso wins so many balls.

It is his job. It is what he does. He doesn't care who has the ball. He wins it back because that's what his team expects of him.

Just maybe what we are seeing is the ineffectiveness of a more traditional double-pivot from the Sounders. With Vagenas, Sturgis and Rose instead of Alonso the team is 4-6-2 with a -3 GD. Prorated to 34 games that would be 39.7 points, a possible, but unlikely playoff team. All three of those players have looked from acceptable to good in the Brad Evans Central Midfield role.

Osvaldo Alonso will reenter the lineup to face Sporting Kansas City. Balls on the counter will be stopped. Graham Zusi won't get enough touches, nor will Kamara, Sapong, Convey and Bunbury. By himself, Osvaldo Alonso changes the approach of opposing offenses. And if it's not Alonso, it needs to be the best available defensive presence possible.