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Rating Alvaro Fernandez’ second stint as a Sounder

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He might not have been as flashy as before, but Flaco did exactly what was expected of him over the past year

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Since he has officially parted ways with the Sounders, I thought now would be a good time to take an in-depth look at the polarizing figure of Alvaro Fernandez through the looking glass of my ratings posts.

First, here are the straight stats for the entire duration of his second stint with Seattle:

Season 2016 Regular 2016 Playoffs 2017 Regular TOTALS
Season 2016 Regular 2016 Playoffs 2017 Regular TOTALS
Appearances/Total 9/14 (64.29%) 3/6 (50%) 10/15 (66.67%) 22/35 (62.86%)
Minimum Rating 4 (@DAL 10/16) 5 (SKC play-in game) 5 (@SJ 4/8, TOR 5/6, @CHI 5/13)
Max Rating 7 (@LAG 9/25, vs. RSL 10/23) 6 (Colorado Second leg, MLS Cup Final) 7 (@CLB 5/31, vs. HOU 6/4)
Championships won 1
Average 5.78 5.67 5.9 5.82

So what does all that mean? Well, the weaknesses were glaringly obvious: Fernandez was no longer the dynamic attacking force he was in the first iteration of his Seattle career. He wasn’t going to break down players via the dribble, unlock the field with his vision and slick passing, or score a thundering blast; in fact he didn’t score much at all.

So, who was this guy and why was he an important player for the Seattle Sounders? First, he was a very technical player. While not someone you design a lineup around, Fernandez was able to fit in seamlessly in numerous positions and instantly fit the culture of the Sounders organization. He played in about 2/3 of the games he was available and was an MLS average player nearly every single time he stepped on the field. He was durable and available whenever called on to start, sub, whatever was asked of him. He needed little time to be available last summer, and he was surely a help in acclimating Lodeiro to the team, league, and city. At times he struggled, but was a quintessential glue guy, a player willing to defend and funnel the ball to more talented teammates. Alvaro was very consistent and rarely earned very low or very high Realio’s Rating scores, instead providing a rather boring output that many fans didn’t appreciate. Every team needs those players though, and I thought Flaco really grew into his role this season. His last two games were his two best of 2017, each netting Fernandez a 7 grade and even a MOTM for his play against Columbus.

I wrote this in that recap:

“I think we should appreciate what he’s doing, even if it’s not sexy or eye opening. He’s a player who makes smart, constructive runs. He’s a player who defends very well, combining aerial prowess, positional savvy, and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a player who is willing to do all the dirty work off the ball to make his team better, and the kind of guy who can help mask the struggles of defensive players around him.”

And as the Sounders finally started to click this year, it was often Flaco’s smart movement that opened up space for Dempsey, or his tactical positioning that allowed Nico to float around, or his defensive cover that helped the struggling outside backs. The Fernandez skillset might seem less important with the introduction of multiple new additions this window, but someone must replace the Fernandez role.

Someone needs to continually make the unselfish runs that open up teammates, hustle back to cover for an outside back far up the field, win a header in the midfield, etc. It’s too bad that Alvaro finally started to gel and be more impactful just as his contract ran out. Fernandez was a good example of how being good to players inside this organization can pay off well into the future, and its likely his great practice work ethic and attitude has rubbed off on younger players as well.

So thanks Flaco, for being a part of the Sounders organization and returning to help this team during dark times. Your big smile will always be remembered!