One commonality between the losses to Toronto, Chivas, LAFC, Dallas and Montreal is that Osvaldo Alonso, the captain, merely sat on the sidelines. His long-term injury may have been replaced on the field — Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson adequately control the midfield, usually — but Alonso is not just the team’s only ‘09er left on the roster, nor just one of the league’s best defensive midfielders. He is the captain. He is the heart of the Sounders.
“I’m very happy to be back, ready to go and ready to play for the team again,” Alonso said earlier this week as he finally practiced in full and was made available to the media.
Ozzie being available means a shift in the armband. He’s worn it when healthy after Brad Evans went down. Others have tried, but their approach to the role is different. Alonso’s approach is the fire of suns and the spirit of animals. He is fierce, ferocious, and though his talents may not be where they once were, his approach to the game is legendary.
Alonso is not merely a captain. He is a sigil, the inspiring banner. Other players may come out lackadaisical. Others may accept a slow start in a match or a season. Our Corazon does not.
Having the very spirit of the team return to the field, rested and healthy, couldn’t come at a better time. The team is just 2-5-0 in all competitions, winless in league play. They need a boost while also recognizing they have time to recover.
“We’ve got time. We’ve got time to come back, to play better... and to win games,” Alonso said.
Having Alonso back means that coach Brian Schmetzer has more options with his most talented players. Svensson can drop back into defense. Roldan (OG version) can play in the attack or even at right back while Kelvin Leerdam is out. It means that the club’s third Designated Player is on the field, guarding the center, amplifying the spine.
If the Seattle Sounders are going to bet back to the soccer that earned them the respect and praise of the league, they need the attitude of Alonso to flow through the locker room. They need his spirit. They need his heart. They need to move on with the season.
“We have to forget about it, move forward and focus on winning the first game first and start from there,” Alonso said.
*nsfw video follows