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Osvaldo Alonso wins third straight Sounders MVP honor

Dec 7, 2012, 9:28 PM EDT

Seattle Sounders v Colorado Rapids Getty Images

For the third year in a row, midfielder Osvaldo Alonso has been chosen as the Seattle Sounders’ Most Valuable Player, no mean feat on a team that includes three designated players (none of which are him), Eddie Johnson and Michael Gspurning. Yet it’s no surprise that Alonso, who finally broke into MLS’s Best XI this season, took the honor voted on by his teammates.

I say finally broke into the Best XI because although Alonso does seem to become more comfortable going forward with each passing season, he has basically been the same player over the last two or three seasons. Yet this year’s honor was his first. Hmm …

Whereas his 2009 introduction to MLS may have included more mistakes and destruction than the player we see now, since 2010 (when he started winning team MVP awards), he’s basically been this game-defining wrecking ball that allows the Sounders to have one of the league’s best defenses despite average defenders. He allows Sigi Schmid to abandon him in the middle knowing Alonso will go land mine whenever comes too close. He’s a badass.

Making comparisons to players who never played in MLS often obfuscated these types of conversations, but in terms of the impact Alonso has on games, he’s as influential as former Real Madrid/Chelsea/France destroyer Claude Makelélé. Only he’s started to provide more going forward.

So how has he not become a staple in the Best XI when he’s perpetually the league’s best at his position? I brought this up to a few people at MLS Cup, who put forth the following ideas:

  • Midfield has suddenly become deep, as evidenced by Kyle Beckerman (among others) not making the team.
  • Best XI isn’t for the best players. It’s for the best attackers with a few defenders thrown in for credibility.
  • Unless you’re a numbers guy, you can’t get into the Best XI playing for a West Coast team. There are too many start times (and, too many simultaneous start times) that are too late for East Coast voters to develop an affinity for a more nuanced performance.
  • Osvaldo Alonso has actually become overrated.

There’s some truth in all of these except number four. Perhaps Alonso’s biggest fans are louder than ever, but there’s still a deep underappreciation for what he brings to Seattle. The farther I get from Seattle, the less likely I am to find somebody who can articulate Alonso’s importance to Seattle (whether they agree on his quality or not).

Perhaps that’s because the raw numbers aren’t there. Perhaps it’s because (like any soccer player) it takes more than one game to gauge his impact. And perhaps it’s because Seattle’s games aren’t as accessible to most of the countries as, say, Dax McCarty’s.

But Alonso’s teammates know how valuable he is. That’s why he’s always team MVP.

  1. ravegreenstreet - Dec 8, 2012 at 5:59 AM

    Words cannot even begin to describe how important the Honey Badger is to the Sounders. You would typically think that Montero, EJ, or Rosales would be #1 priority on an opposing team’s mind, but every pre-match interview the players and coaches all say that Ozzie is the man to be wary of. Who was the only player the great Sir Alex Fergueson singled out and praised after their trip to Seattle? Ozzie. Who did DiMatteo praise after both the Chelsea friendly in Seattle and the All-Star Game? Ozzie.

    No player on the Sounders, probably all of MLS, makes a team change their entire game plan like Alonso does. You can’t just play down the middle with him on the field. He will shut down everything that comes remotely near him. Richard said it perfectly when he said “he’s basically been this game-defining wrecking ball that allows the Sounders to have one of the league’s best defenses despite average defenders”. He is incredible at showing up at the right place at the right time to bail us out. His sense of positioning is second to none, and his tackles are ferocious yet clean.

    And all of that is just the defensive side to his game. His passing is fantastic; his vision is superb. I’d say he’s definitely the best long-range passer on the Sounders, maybe second to Montero. But he’s great at switching and just keeping the cogs moving in the midfield. Rarely does he do something glamorous or highlight-reel worthy… which is why the fact that he is easily the most loved Sounder should be a big sign to people that the man is the real deal. To win an entire fanbase over with less than a handful of goals and assists, is a very impressive feat. At least more so in the US where a “Schweinsteiger” type player is not appreciated like they are in Europe.

    tl;dr Honey Badger don’t give a s***.

  2. charliej11 - Dec 8, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Huge Sounder’s Fan….Seattle should NOT lose Alonso, he was injured once…I still haven’t recovered from watching…. it was so much worse without him.

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