Longtime Sounder Ozzie Alonso signs with Minnesota United FC

Ozzie Alonso
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Blaine, Minnesota — From the moment the Seattle Sounders FC organization began, Osvaldo Alonso was part of the club.

In 2009, the Seattle Sounders began its first-ever season in Major League Soccer. Alonso, a native of Cuba, was an original member of the roster. Now, after 277 regular-season appearances with the Sounders, Alonso is heading to a new team.

Longtime Sounder Ozzie Alonso signs with Minnesota United FC

The midfielder and former Sounders captain has signed with Minnesota United FC. The club is about to enter its third season in the league.

Alonso was part of the Sounders team that won the 2016 MLS Cup over Toronto FC. In the playoffs — which Seattle has made all 10 seasons in the MLS — Alonso made 25 appearances, starting all but one match. Throughout his career, Alonso scored 10 goals in the regular-season and provided 24 assists.

Before signing with the Sounders, Alonso began his career with Pinar del Río in Cuba. He made 42 appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals from 2005-07. During that time frame, he also represented the Cuban National Team 17 times, scoring two goals.

He also spent time with the Charleston Battery.

“We have seen many great players that have played for our club, but none have had as much influence as Osvaldo Alonso,” Brian Schmetzer, Sounders head coach, said. “His drive and determination to win was evident from the first day of training, his first game and continued throughout all of the successful years he had with Sounders FC.

Schmetzer said he felt “fortunate” to coach “such a tremendous player.”

We watched his game evolve, his influence grow to where he eventually led us as captain to our first MLS Cup,” Schmetzer said. “I want to personally thank him for his play for the last 10 years. We will miss ‘El Corazon.’”

What MNUFC said

Meanwhile, over in Minnesota, Alonso joins a team that finished the most recent MLS season with an 11-20-3 record. It’s a slight improvement from the first season, where Minnesota compiled a 10-18-6 record.

Minnesota United sporting director Manny Lagos called Alonso a “great leader” and “warrior.”

“It’ll be nice to have him on the field playing for us rather than against us,” Alonso said. “He’s going to come in and complement and develop our midfield core. He has high expectations for this club and this season. We believe he will add leadership, steel and grit, and will continue to mold a winning mentality on and off the field.”

Alonso will feature under Adrian Heath, who formerly coached at Orlando City SC.

“We are bringing in one of the best, most competitive and tenacious defensive midfielders in the league,” Heath said. “The first thing we heard when speaking with players, front office staff and coaches about Ozzie was that he is a leader, he won’t accept losing. As we move into Allianz Field we know we need to be better and we are bringing in a player that can help us achieve our goals on the field and someone who can help develop a mentality with our players in the locker room.”

Stefan Frei also had quite a bit to say about Ozzie:

“We are not finished yet.’ There are many things you could remember Ozzie for, but those words will remain with me for the rest of my life. We had clawed out of a pretty dark hole in 2016. Ozzie’s phrase served as a daily reminder to keep pushing hard and reach for the skies. Leading with unrivaled passion, El Corazon should be a shining example for any aspiring Sounder.”

This season, Minnesota United will face the Sounders at home in the Allianz Arena on Saturday, May 4. However, Alonso will return to Seattle for the final game of Minnesota’s regular season, on Sunday, Oct. 6.

PHOTO: Osvaldo Alonso holds up the MLS Cup trophy during a parade and in front of Seattle Sounders fans on Dec. 13. Alonso spent all 10 seasons of his MLS career in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Dan Poss/Seattle Sounders FC.