Via a couple of tweets, first by Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times and then confirmed by Matt Gaschk from the front office, we learn that Osvaldo Alonso has gained his United States citizenship. This really doesn't have a Sounders roster impact, since he's had a green card for a number of years now and hasn't taken up an international slot, but given that he's a Cuban refugee I'm sure it's a special achievement for him personally.
There's bound to be questions about his eligibility for the US national team, given that he's one of the best defensive midfielders in the league and we've seen a comparable player in Kyle Beckerman make the team. However, he played for the Cuba national team in the Gold Cup in 2007 (in fact, it was during that tournament that he defected by separating from the team at a Walmart in Houston), so it would seem he is cap-tied. However, there's a relevant section in Article 18 of the FIFA statutes:
If a Player who has been fielded by his Association in an international match in accordance with art. 15 par. 2 permanently loses the nationality of that country without his consent or against his will due to a decision by a government authority, he may request permission to play for another Association whose nationality he already has or has acquired.
So if his Cuban citizenship was rescinded by Cuba after defection, he may have a case to gain eligibility for the USMNT.
Here are the tweets:
More to come on this one, but Osvaldo Alonso has earned his U.S. citizenship.— Joshua Mayers (@joshuamayers) June 19, 2012
After 5 years with a green card, Osvaldo Alonso became a US citizen last Thursday. Tomorrow will surely be a special day for him.— Matt Gaschk (@mattgaschk) June 19, 2012