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.”
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.