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Sounders re-sign Alonso to Designated Player deal

OsvaldoAlonsoSeattleSounders1-SanJoseEarthquakes (SeattleSounders)

By DAN KARELL

One of Major League Soccer’s best players has earned a raise.

The Seattle Sounders announced on Tuesday that they had signed midfielder Osvaldo Alonso to a multi-year Designated Player contract, keeping the Cuban native at the club for the foreseeable future. Alonso joins Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins as the Sounders Designated Players.

Alonso joined the Sounders in 2009 and since then, has been named team MVP for four consecutive seasons as well as leading MLS in passing accuracy this season (88.58 percent).

“Alonso is the model of consistency for us in central midfield,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid in a statement. “His on-field leadership and tenacious play make him one of the top holding midfielders in the league.”

The decision to make Alonso a Designated Player means that 32-year-old midfielder Mauro Rosales would have to sign a contract with a base salary of less than $368,750 if he chooses to return to the Sounders next season. Rosales is a free agent currently, but he’s expressed a desire in the past to stay with the Sounders.

“Ozzie is the ultimate competitor who has given everything to Sounders FC,” said Sounders owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer. “His passion for the game of soccer and his drive to be the best are validated by being named team MVP four-consecutive seasons by his teammates. Ozzie is a key building block for our club and we are happy to sign him to a long-term contract extension.”

Another player who could feel the consequences of this decision is forward Eddie Johnson. The U.S. Men’s National Team member is set for contract talks with the Sounders this winter, and while his salary demands may not be at Designated Player levels, the club may decide to trade him for salary cap relief. It was reported last week that the Sounders were open to listening to offers for the 29-year-old.

This past season, Alonso helped take the Sounders to the Western Conference semifinals and put together a run of eight wins in nine games. The 28-year-old defensive midfielder started 30 times for the Sounders in 2013, recording one assist.

“This contract is different,” Alonso said on the Sounders website. “I have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders now. Signing this contract is going to be a good challenge for me,” he said. “It’s the same game and the same pressure. I play hard, play with energy and give everything I have. The only thing that changes is the contract.”

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What do you think of this news? Did you expect Alonso to receive a DP contract? What do you think this means for Eddie Johnson and Mauro Rosales? Do you see the Sounders making any other big moves soon?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Too obvious.

    The first piece they “signed” was keeping Sigi….right or wrong.
    Ozzie would always be the second piece, unless you want to lose every game next year.

    Anyone thinking that EJ was the second piece…what the heck are you thinking ?

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  2. As a RBNY fan, I would love for my team to pick up Rosales. He could be the attacking playmaker we’re looking for, although we would probably have to move him to central midfield or at the top of a diamond.

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  3. Let EJ walk and try to convince Martins to stay (batting his eyes at Gala currently), I really think he could do something with a true off season with the team instead of joining a couple weeks into the season. Would love to have Rosales back but not at DP and not to start, he looks so gassed about 45 minutes that he just can’t start consistently anymore

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  4. Not a surprise at all. The only other player that made sense for the DP was EJ, and with his propensity to burn every bridge he walks across, it was either going to be Ozzie or Evans. The Sounders reward loyalty, and it’s not like Alonso didn’t deserve it.

    With EJ, the Sounders have to pay him, but in doing so, they’ll lose Rosales. Which would be a shame. Unless you feel like Burch can have the same impact on corners and free kicks. Which I don’t. This last year was a colossal meltdown.. I don’t see it going down again.

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    • Gotta think bigger.
      It’s time to ship out many of the players that got us that meltdown last year, and their bloated (by MLS standards) contracts – Gspurning, Hurtado, Traore, Ianni, Rosales, Martins, etc., etc.
      Go out and find some new blood in the winter transfer window and start over building around Alonso-Dempsey-Evans-Yedlin.

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  5. I know it would be difficult to get rid of Obafemi because of the contract, but I’d rather keep EJ and pay him $500K than keep Obafemi for the money that he’s on. Great player but he is regularly hurt. EJ is a head case, but the dude produces at the MLS level and is friends with Clint. Of course, all of this is a bit moot without a more creative force in the midfield–that’s where I would spend the money.

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    • Not sure that EJ thinks $500K would be fair value to stay at Seattle. He would probably wind up taking that elsewhere, but a sober appreciation of his own value has not heretofore been a hallmark of his career.

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    • How many games will EJ miss due to international duty next season? Do you think that has anything to do with a front office’s decision on who is worth X amount?

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  6. This is really great news for the Sounders, and for Alonso, who has earned it.
    It’s also good news for the league, I think. Zusi, Gonazles, Alonso – this trend of signing good-to-great MLS players to reasonable contracts by world soccer standards is good news for the long-term future of the league.
    People get all worked up by “big-name DPs” coming in from Euro or wherever, but Ozzie Alonso is every bit as talented and important to Sounders as Beckham was to LA and Henry is to Red Bull.
    Hope this trend continues, where they player talent is worth it.

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  7. And also a big surprise. Not to say Alonso hasn’t been a great player, guess we just didn’t see this contract coming. Probably also a way to tell Eddie Johnson they reward players who play great AND keep their mouth from getting them into trouble.

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    • I don’t think this is the least bit a surprise. He is the glue that holds the team together. Plus, there is no way they would have three DP forwards (sorry EJ) and Rosales has been a 60 minute man most of this season. (I think there is no way he is as young as he’s listed, byt the way.)

      As a Sounders watcher (in not exactly fan) this is pretty much what I expected.

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    • so who do you trade EJ the GAM for? Sounders need a centerback. how about to Dallas for George John? to New England for Jose Goncalves? to Kansas City for Aurelien Collin or Matt Besler? ???

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      • I doubt they’re going to get that much value for EJ. The guy is pretty clearly a locker room issue and now the Sounders can’t afford to keep him on the roster while he’s burning up salary cap space and sulking. I bet other teams will hold out to see how cheaply they can trade for EJ.

      • That may be the case, but for a proven MLS goal scorer (when his mind is in the right place of course) all it takes is one team to want to make that deal.

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