It has been a difficult year for Osvaldo Alonso, from dealing with a misdiagnosed injury to feeling unwanted after not being protected from the expansion draft.
Nonetheless, “El Corazon de los Sounders” has never taken a game off when fit or given less than his maximum effort. Whether it is on the practice field or on game day, from Open Cups to the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, there is no question that his contagious relentless attitude has been common denominator in the franchise’s biggest moments.
That is why, it’s no surprise Alonso once again finds himself playing at a prominent level during a historic nine-game winning streak and helping the club win another Cascadia Cup. His never-stopping motor is a significant reason the team has at times managed to win even when not playing particularly well.
Saturday was a perfect example of a team that played hard, earned three points, while playing far from perfect and how a midfielder like Alonso can contribute in such a situation.
“It wasn’t our best game but like I say, tomorrow in the papers it’s going be like we win the game so that’s what matters to us right now,” Alonso said after winning at BC Place.
That is Ozzie in a nutshell, do the work, leave it all on the pitch and get the victory under any circumstance. Now with only seven games remaining in regular season, there is a conversation worth having: Should Osvaldo Alonso be given a new deal after his contract expires at the end of the season?
In my opinion there is no question, the Honey Badger has shown he can continue to be a strong contributor, as well as a leader to this team and should be signed to a new deal. I realize that the business side of this sport has no room for my futbol romanticism. Alonso turns 33 this month, and has a history of injuries. Those will be a big part of this conversation, as will his only playing 1,239 minutes this season — although one could argue the misdiagnosing of his injury had a lot to do with how long the Cuban midfielder was out — it will be a factor taking in consideration. I, for one, enjoy hearing the sentiment in which he talks about staying and one day perhaps retiring with the organization he has devoted much of his life to.
“I would like to retire where I’ve spent most and the best part of my career, so if the opportunity presents itself I’d be happy,” said Alonso gazing at the training filed. “Right now I feel really good so all I can do is focus on my work, wait to see how the season plays out and in December we’ll see what happens with my contract”.
Alonso has started eight of nine games, looking very much like the version of himself who has been called one of the best defensive midfielder in league history. Not only has he provided a defensive presence, but he’s displayed vision that allows him to find open players in space while giving every player in the line-up a sense of security. There is not one player that when talking about Ozzie, doesn’t say how much easier he makes their assignment on the field. Players often illustrate Alonso’s importance by tapping or pointing at their heart to describe how he impacts the game, a telling gesture for a player whose passion maximizes every other attribute he has.
Alonso’s humble beginnings will always keep him away from the lights, always deflecting praise towards his teammates, as he keeps his head down working hard for the common goal of reaching another MLS title. Although he denies that a future contract is a main inspiration for his current form, I believe he is hoping his body of work speaks for itself so his legacy can continue here, where he wants to be.
“To me, Seattle is the greatest thing that could’ve happen in my soccer career,” Alonso said. “From day one, the fans have always showed me unconditional support. In good times and bad times they have always given me a hand with all their support.
“I’ve always cherished that from the city and I’m thankful. That’s why I’ve responded with my work, dedication and every time I step on the field, I do my best to give them moments of joy.”
Alonso’s genuine love for the city is undeniable. His connection to Seattle surpasses the sport as he has raised his family in the nearly 10 years he has spent here. That type of commitment to an entire community, I think is a variable worth considering in the negotiating table. Furthermore, he continues to prove he has plenty gas in the tank, but we can also begin to admire a legacy he has sculpted with chisel at hand since his arrival and those that have seen him develop throughout the years understand the importance he’s had on the franchise,
“He is arguably the best player we’ve had,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said recently. “Maybe Zach Scott has more games in the USL era, but Ozzie is creeping up and that stat is easy to tell. What has he done for the team over the course of his years, I still remember when we first rolled him out there that first game in ‘09, you know, the game against New York and just the excitement and enthusiasm with how he played.”
“It continues today. He still plays the same, maybe a little smarter, a little wiser, a little older but he still can bring it don’t sell him short.”
The living legend that is Osvaldo Alonso, will continue to grind day in and day out but as he reminisced on what his time defending the Sounders colors, he did want to send a message.
“This city will always be in my heart and I am very happy to be here,” he said. “The only thing I would like to tell the fans is that I will be forever grateful for all the support they have given me with that enthusiasm they show in every game. As long as I am here, you can all expect the best from me because I will always give my best and every time I am on the field, I am going to romperme la madre (Bust my ass) as they say in Mexico to win every single game.”
That type of commitment has to be a factor in consideration when you are in the middle of negotiation for everything.