João Paulo won’t just be the Seattle Sounders’ newest Designated Player, he’ll also be their first No. 6 since Osvaldo Alonso left the team before the 2019 season. No one wore the No. 6 jersey last year and Alonso had been the only player to don that number during the Sounders MLS era. Federal Way native Cirian O’Brien wore the No. 6 for the Sounders during their final USL season in 2008.
João Paulo had worn the Nos. 5 and 17 jerseys in his last two seasons at Botafogo. The No. 6 jersey is traditionally worn by defensive midfielders, which may suggest how the Sounders intend to use the Brazilian.
“The coaching staff is always pleased to welcome talented players to our roster, and with João we are adding a versatile veteran with a track record of winning,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said in a team release. “He gives us options in the midfield, as well as some more vertical passing options in the initial build up, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits in with the rest of the squad.”
While it’s certainly notable that João Paulo is taking such a storied number, he sounds like the type of player who welcomes the challenge. He’s a former captain and someone who appears beloved by former teammates and fans. Alonso’s place in Sounders history — and the best way to honor that — is something best left to discuss after he retires.