Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator Skip to content

Osvaldo Alonso will always be 'El Corazón de los Sounders'

Sounders pay the proper respect to a club legend.

Last Updated
3 min read
Sounders FC Communications

SEATTLE – One thing that could not be denied during Osvaldo Alonso's 10-year Seattle Sounders career was his heart. The midfielder seemed to do everything at 100%, whether it was training sessions, games or even team-building exercises like soccer-tennis.

It was no accident that fans referred to him as "El Corazón de los Sounders."

In case anyone had forgotten about this in the five years that have passed since he last suited up for the Rave Green, Alonso was more than happy to remind everyone during a press conference on Thursday at Lumen Field that culminated with him signing a ceremonial one-day contract that allows him to retire as a member of the Sounders.

"I'm so happy for this moment and very grateful," Alonso said. "In my heart, I knew Seattle would do this for me."

Alonso was invited to Lumen Field to effectively get a hero's send-off. With his wife and three children in tow, they visited the Sounders locker room, watched training and were greeted at the press conference with jerseys for each family member. There were photos of some of Alonso's most iconic moments in Seattle spread throughout and seven of the trophies he won while with the Sounders adorned the stage. Before Saturday's game, there will be a pregame ceremony for Alonso that will likely include him receiving a Golden Scarf among other things.

Almost as soon as he started speaking, Alonso was fighting back tears. He succumbed several times, most notably when talking about the role his wife played in helping him stay positive when he first defected from the Cuban national team during the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup and whenever he talked about the emotions surrounding his departure from the Sounders following the 2018 season.

There was no shortage of positive memories about Alonso's time with the Sounders. He played a pivotal role in leading the club to four U.S. Open Cup trophies, two Western Conference titles, a Supporters' Shield and, most notably, their first MLS Cup. True to his ethos, though, Alonso recalled a tackle during the 2016 playoff run as one of his favorite moments. Late in the game against Sporting KC, Alonso went flying in on Benny Feilhaber near the sideline. Peter Vermes and the KC bench were incensed, demanding the referee show Alonso what would have been a second yellow card. At the time, Alonso sort of shrugged his shoulders and just ran into position.

Some years later, Feilhaber confronted Alonso about the play. Alonso reached into his pocket and produced his phone, where he had saved a video of the play, apparently in anticipation of that very moment.

"I never touched him," Alonso said, maintaining his innocence even today.

It was an almost perfect encapsulation of Alonso, always going all out and never willing to give an inch. But that sort of attitude was a double-edged sword. It certainly made for a rocky end to his Sounders playing career, when he made it clear he felt as though he wasn't being paid the proper respect.

Given time and space, Alonso said he can now understand the decision to let him leave, but he clearly felt a part of him always remained in Seattle.

"I say to wife all the time, Sounders is my home," he said. "Leaving was hard, but that’s football. The fans always gave me a good welcome. I’m very excited for Saturday. I love Seattle, I love the fans."

Osvaldo Alonso reminded us he’s super human
“El Corazon de Los Sounders” took 8 pain injections for an injured knee, securing himself in Sounders lore.

Accompanying Alonso on stage was Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. Among the first things Schmetzer did after getting the interim job during the 2016 season was anointing Alonso his captain. Schmetzer and Alonso share a lot of characteristics, especially in how they both live by a "hate to lose" ethos. Schmetzer often name-checks Alonso when talking about the type of players the Sounders should be recruiting.

For most of the press conference, Schmetzer just smiled and shared the occasional anecdote. But given the chance to offer some closing words as Alonso struggled to compose himself, Schmetzer also started to break down a bit, before finally offering: "It’s right that he retires as a Sounder."