It was first noted by Univision’s Diego Arrioja after the Houston match that Alvaro Fernandez had said he was playing his last match at CenturyLink Field that night. There was some speculation about whether or not that was true, but general manager Garth Lagerwey basically confirmed last week that Flaco would be leaving the club soon. Luckily for the fans and the player himself, Flaco made a substitute appearance at Starfire on Tuesday in the win against the Portland Timbers. When he entered the match for Zach Mathers in the 72nd minute, it was to a thunderous ovation by the home supporters.
Flaco arrived in Seattle for his second stint with the club last summer, and it’s understood that he played a significant role in convincing his close friend Nicolas Lodeiro to join the club. He had 23 appearances in MLS since arriving in 2016, with one goal and one assist.
Niko Moreno of La Afición NW/Somos Sounders spoke on the phone with Flaco after the match, and he graciously provided Sounder at Heart a translated transcript of their conversation. In the best interest of the player’s intent, his full answers are provided below, with only light editing for clarity.
How he said goodbye to the team:
“Well yeah, the truth is that it was a very emotional day for me because it was the last time I was going to be in Starfire. Prior to the start of practice, the coach said some very nice words about me; they gave me a present, a ball and a jersey signed by all my teammates. After that when it was my turn talk, just to sum it up, more than anything I thanked them for letting me be a part of this team and that I wished them nothing but the best for their upcoming future.”
How he felt getting a standing ovation during the Timbers match:
“Truly that was the loveliest part because as I entered the field, the people’s ovation was very nice but the reality is that I did not want the game to ever to end, I wanted to play some more time because I knew those were going to be my last minutes as part of the team. Beyond that I tried to do the best I could to win the derby against Portland last night, luckily everything went well, we won and I was very happy but at the same time I was a little emotional because I knew it would be the last time that I would wear this jersey.”
On the decision and negotiation to leave the club:
“I had a talk with Garth about two months ago and well there didn’t seem to be any interest to continue here, you know when you are having a conversation and it’s positive or negative. The only thing I asked was if I could go back to Uruguay for few days because obviously I have to think about my family, also look for a team so...nothing. I had a contract until the 31st but we made the decision and thanks to Garth and Brian’s willingness, I was able to leave a few days before. In reality, there was never anything sure enough to go on, that conversation we had earlier was in no way positive and well, sometimes you have to make decisions based more on your family than on yourself.”
On if he left in good terms with the club and staff:
“Yes, yes, yes, with everybody, With Garth, with Brian, with my teammates, with the fans, with the city, with Adrian. The truth is that I am very grateful for every one of them. Obviously, this team has become a very special part of my life. Without a doubt, this is the most important team I was a part of because it was where I felt at home despite being so far away and it is where I was able to win three titles in three years and that is no small thing. Therefore, the truth is that this team will forever have a mark on me and I will always wish them the best in the future.”
On what’s next:
“I really do not know where I will be playing as of today. If you were to ask me where I want to, I would say yes, I would like to go back and play in Uruguay because I would be in my country, with all my family a little bit closer, it would also be good for my girls but well, this is soccer and you never know what is going to happen. I never close the door on anything but it would be ideal to be in Uruguay or at least nearby.”
On this being the best way to finish his time in MLS:
“Yes without a doubt, I came here with that idea, coming back to the team that I loved dearly, that I very much liked. Coming back to Seattle Sounders and in less than five months reaching an MLS title for the first time in history, truthfully was spectacular, the truth is that it was a very good choice to return and I am just happy for making that decision to come back.”