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Alvaro Fernandez is the ideal squad player the Sounders need

Former Designated Player and World Cup veteran is looking to crack the starting lineup regularly in 2017.

Dave Clark

There is an energy and effort to Alvaro Fernandez’ game so far this season. For the second time, his stint with the Seattle Sounders started in middle of a year, and just like in 2010-11, he finally has an offseason and training camp to integrate into the squad.

So far, due to injury and international call up, he has been used in the attacking midfield band of three with Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro. He’s put in more work defensively and is making incisive runs, rather than waiting for the game to come to him.

This training camp is an opportunity “to get in the best shape possible and to get in the best shape for the first game,” Fernandez told Sounder at Heart through an interpreter.

Flaco is competing to be one of the starters in the attacking group. That group will certainly include Dempsey and Lodeiro in the band of three, with Morris either up top or wide. Flaco needs to set himself apart from Will Bruin, Harry Shipp, Gustav Svensson, and Brad Evans. But he knows he can succeed if he’s on the field with Clint and Nico.

“They’re two players of high quality,” Alvaro said. “They always attract the opponents — two or three of them — and that opens up the space on the outside for me.”

Whether wide, where he can be a target on the back post, or in central places helping possession, Fernandez offers a skillset different from his attacking teammates. Don’t expect him to have a repeat of 2011. He would rather repeat the second half of 2016 during which he only had a single goal.

“Yes, I can help the team, whether it’s scoring or assisting or just helping. At the end of the day, what’s important is Seattle winning,” Fernandez declared. “If we can repeat what happened last year, it will be great.”

Since leaving Seattle the first time, Fernandez played in a deeper central role. He enjoys the spot, but does not see a need for the Sounders to re-invent something that’s working quite well in the holding midfield.

“That’s a position that I’m well familiar with. We have two of the best players [in MLS], perhaps, at that position in Osvaldo and Cristian, so I don’t want to invent anything new there.”

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