Osvaldo Alonso is "coming along really well," according to Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, but that doesn't necessarily mean the defensive midfielder will be ready for the season-opener on March 8. Although a final decision has not yet been made, it sounds like Alonso will not go with his teammates to Tucson, at least not immediately, and instead continue his rehabilitation in Seattle.
"If he's still in a situation where he's only doing stuff inside, we're probably going to keep him here," Schmid said on Wednesday. "But once he's able to get on the field and touch the ball, at that point we'll bring him to Tucson."
In the meantime, the Sounders are preparing for a backup plan. Right now, it appears to be a two-man battle between Micheal Azira and Andy Rose.
Azira was the player Schmid went to last year when Alonso was forced out of the playoff game against FC Dallas and missed the subsequent match against the LA Galaxy. Azira was solid, if unspectacular in both appearances. Azira also made a pair of starts in place of Alonso in early-round U.S. Open Cup matches.
Rose has mostly played as the more attacking of the two center mids, but was a deeper lying player in college.
Schmid also mentioned the possibility that Alonso's injury could open up some opportunity for rookie Cristian Roldan, although not necessarily as a defensive mid.
"I don't know if he's a defensive midfielder yet," Schmid said about Roldan. "He definitely belongs more in the middle of the park than on the outside, but he can play on the outside in a pinch. As all players who come out of college, the biggest adjustment is the speed of decision-making. He's a very humble kid, a very eager kid and he learns very quickly and he's making good progress."