Tony Alfaro went from second round draft pick to fringe member of the Seattle Sounders gameday 18 in just a year. The Cal State-Dominguez Hills product played a tiny bit of stay-at-home left back, but was mostly the fourth central defender on the roster in 2016.
The ranking is based on several hundred Sounder at Heart readers’ votes. Realio rated every single MLS regular season and playoff game as well as the two CONCACAF Champions League matches. He did not rate USL or USOC play.
Tony Alfaro 2016
Showed limited ability to contribute in the attack when at left back. Patient along the backline. Clearing balls do not start attacks, they could improve. Good target for dead balls as he can put balls on target with authority.
Solid defender that is a natural for the left side of a CB pairing. Controls ground well when ball is close, but can leave too much space wide. Strong defense of hold up players, weaker against an on-rushing man. Solid when defending set-pieces. Should not be used as a left back except in dire roster situations.
Alfaro was the fastest centerback on the roster in 2016. Strong lateral movement along the backline. Powerful frame that he’s will to use to knock players off the ball.
Even though he was the Sounders' first draft pick in 2016, Alfaro was chosen in the second round and didn't have a lot of lofty expecations going into the season. That being said, he showed well at S2 and was moved up to the first team, finding sub appearances by late May. Tony had 5 appearances for coach Schmid (25%), all which were very solid showings. Alfaro's ratings had a tight range from 5-7 and his consistency and dependability to be able to perform even in emergency first half defensive sub situation was impressive. He even displayed versatility, lining up at left back when needed.
With the inclusion midseason of Roman Torres and new coach Brian Schmetzer trusting the veteran Zach Scott for the stretch run, Alfaro didn't factor at all into the first team in the final half of the year and playoffs. I believe now that Scott has retired and the possibility of Brad Evans being moved to right back opens up a lot of potential minutes for Alfaro. Being mentored by Marshall and Torres should only help his development, ensuring an almost perfect opportunity for a young player to grow.
Tony should be the first center back sub, while offering some left back cover if necessary, and being an integral part of every first team 18 going forward. Owning deceptive speed and above average defensive positioning skills, Tony also uses his strong frame well, making him adept at covering a variety of attackers. The most impressive aspect of Alfaro's game is his forward vision, possessing a very accurate left footed long ball, enabling him to bypass midfielders and jump start attacks from a very deep position.
Best Case 2017:
Third centerback earning starts as Torres gets calls to represent Panama. That could mean 10-15 starts, as Zach Scott earned in 2017.