As we all know, Saturday marks the first time the Sounders have faced Osvaldo Alonso in the MLS era (they actually played him in the U.S. Open Cup back in the USL days). As Sounders fans, we’ve faced off against former players, even fan favorites. But Ozzie was the heart and soul of this team for 10 years! He was arguably their most consistent performer during much of that time, too.
How would you describe your overall emotions about this meeting?
Mark Kastner: I haven’t really thought about it much. Not for the lack of trying or the lack of desire, but mostly for the lack of not knowing how to process it. Honestly, I’m pretty excited for it. Maybe we’ll get to see why fans of other teams hated him for all those years.
Beth Mantle: I’m pretty excited for the inevitable chaos this is going to produce. I think it’s safe to say that Ozzie is a pretty emotional player who feels hard done by the Sounders, so there’s no way this story line doesn’t translate onto the pitch in some fashion.
Tim Foss: I’m excited! As much as I love Ozzie, I think it was the right time for him to leave, and he didn’t leave to join a rival or one of the top teams in the league. It’s going to be fun and terrifying to watch him go against Nico and Cristian, in particular. Ozzie’s already got a bit of a connection with their fans, having scored the inaugural goal in their new stadium, and I could see him being a little too up for the occasion.
Jeremiah Oshan: I’ll admit that I was NERVOUS the first time the Sounders played Fredy Montero. Not just because he joined a rival, but because he was so close to the top of his game. I’m not experiencing those same emotions for this game, I’ll admit. I don’t begrudge Ozzie for leaving and am happy he landed somewhere he’s being allowed to play such a big role. But if I’m being honest, I, too, am sorta excited to see how he deals with someone like Nicolas Lodeiro…
What do you think the lasting legacy he left was?
Mark: Not to be dramatic, but I think his legacy is still the heart of the team. I think the team isn’t the Seattle Sounders without having Ozzie for 10 seasons. Sure, there’s the open cups, supporters shield, and MLS cup, but I think its so much more than that. Ozzie’s passion is the fabric of the club even if he’s not here anymore.
Tim: For me personally, I’m always going to think first of Ozzie getting cortisone shots in his knee at halftime of the MLS Cup to stay on the field and win it. It’s a story that I feel like encapsulates his time here pretty well. I think more broadly he’ll be remembered for being a destroyer and the sort of enforcer, and his pristine passing and genuine love for the team will be treated as much like accents as his occasional goals. At least outside of Seattle.
Beth: His legacy is surely indelible, and echoing Mark, you still see his impact on and off the field in the definition of what it means to be a Sounder. The way he went out with the subtweets and instagram stories might shadow his legacy for some, but I think you’ll see his lasting influence only grow stronger and more obvious as time passes.
Mark: Shoutout to Ari Liljenwall for that one.
Along those lines, is there one memory of him that you think of most or even defines his tenure?
Mark: I think there’s probably more important on the field moments like MLS Cup or what not, but I’ll never forget the first game his father got to go to in 2015.
Tim: It’s probably the MLS Cup, but I also want to note how much fun it was any time he scored. Especially this one to kill the 2011 US Open Cup.
Beth: For me, it’s the “We’re not finished yet” tagline of the 2016 playoffs.
Jeremiah: I was originally going to say that my favorite moment was that us open cup goal because it was one of the few games I sat in the stands for, but for the sake of this piece I’m going to say it’s the tackle on Benny Feilhaber in the 2016 playoffs that caused the most epic on-field meltdown I’ve ever seen. Good times.
Tim: Can I just make a supplemental shoutout to Ozzie being the primary reason for the whole Pep Guardiola not shaking MLS Allstar coaches’ hands?
Part of what makes Ozzie’s legacy so awesome is that it’s full of two things: 1. Amazing plays that all soccer fans can appreciate 2. Remarkable moments that explain why everyone who faced Ozzie absolutely hated playing against him. How worried are you that he’ll channel the 2014 version of himself and remind us why fans feel that way?
Beth: I wasn’t until now...
Mark: Very worried. But I don’t think his supporting cast is good enough for it to mean anything. And as we saw the last couple of years, Ozzie trying to do too much hurts his team.
Tim: That worry is a very small voice in my mind, and Mark’s point about the players around him is a big reason why.
Beth: But really, I think there’s a good chance that he comes out way too strong compared to the rest of his team and shoots them in the foot with a few dumb tackles or some Peak Ozzie Antics.
Tim: I do feel like the stage is set for Ozzie to try Too Hard to do Too Much on Saturday and hurt his team one way or another.
Beth: I just pray he doesn’t hurt any Sounders while doing this. My guess is that there will be a red card worthy event that won’t get called.
Tim: If you up it to Ozzie being involved somehow in a player getting sent off, I think it’s almost guaranteed.
Mark: We’ll also see the infamous Ozzie shoulder shrug after he makes a foul
Tim: I still think that we could see a wild slide tackle in the box that leads to him breaking and making a goal on the counter, but it’s much more likely that Ozzie is Extremely Back on His Bull**** to make a point.
Mark: This is SBNation, Tim. You can say Bullshit.
Tim: great, Ozzie’s 100% going to have invested HEAVILY in his bullshit.
Let’s end with one more prediction: Do you think Ozzie will ever be involved with the Sounders again?
Mark: I don’t think so. He doesn’t strike me as the coaching type, like Gonzalo Pineda or the front office type like Taylor Graham.
Beth: I’d guess he’s going to Miami in some capacity as soon as they stop drowning in lawsuits.
Tim: I would love for this to be a world where some how Ozzie is involved with the development set-up, but I can’t imagine that working as well as I would hope.
Jeremiah: I feel like there’s still a chapter left in his book with Seattle, but I’m not sure it’s with the Sounders. Maybe he spends a couple years here after he retires from playing, but it’s hard to imagine what kind of role he might fill inside the organization. We may just have to be satisfied with the memories he already gave us ... which should be plenty.