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“Training spell” at West Ham going well for Seattle’s Alonso

Dec 20, 2012, 10:13 AM EDT

Osvaldo Alonso, Luis Noriega

Repeat this after me:

Say it, and really believe it.

“Rare is the ‘training stint’ that is 100 percent ‘training stint.’ ”

Players who go overseas for a week or two weeks or whatever do certainly get something out of the exercise. They are staying in shape and sharpening their all the little tools in their bag of technical tricks. Further, they get exposed to the professionalism and serious business of soccer in other lands.

But the clubs are getting something too. At some point, as I keep saying, these are de facto tryouts.

I give you Osvaldo Alonso, the Seattle Sounders’ crackerjack holding midfielder, who is training at Upton Park with West Ham. The club says it’s a training spell – and I have no trouble believing that on its face. However …what if they like what they see?

Here’s what West Ham boss Sam Allardyce says about that ticklish little scenario:

We’re never going to turn one down are we? Or two! You’ve always got to try. If there’s anybody there who can enhance or better the team, then we would like to go for them.”

“Whether that’s short term, long term, it depends when the window opens who is actually available and who we can to get to come in.”

  1. dfstell - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Wasn’t he naturalizing as a US citizen? Or did he already? I just remember hearing some discussion of him as a possible USMNT player IF he could get US citizenship AND appeal to FIFA to allow a switch due to those unique Cuban circumstances.

    I assume moving to England would disrupt the naturalization process, right?

    Just curious…

    • exslacker - Dec 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      He became a US citizen during the summer. The bigger problem will be getting a visa. He would have to be granted an exemption by FA. He only had one cap for Cuba before he defected, and his appeal to FIFA to be able to play for the US is still under review. At the moment he is a man without a national team. I don’t know a lot about the visa process, but this would seem to be a text book case for an exemption. He is Best XI as a defensive mid, and the guy he beat out for that honor is Kyle Beckerman, who has more than enough caps to get a visa. In addition, there is little doubt that he would be a mainstay on the Cuban team had he not defected and little doubt that he will get called up by Klinsmann if FIFA approves is appeal.

    • cornet76 - Dec 22, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      He became a citizen in June and he’s waiting on the results of his appeal.

      “That last thought also applies to his national-team hopes. Alonso played two games for Cuba in the 2007 Gold Cup, which would normally prevent him from switches allegiances to the U.S.

      But the case might not be closed as the midfielder said his agent is looking into the situation and has sent an inquiry to FIFA to look into his eligibility.

      Alonso said citizenship is reward enough, but he’s holding out hope.

      “I’m not allowed to play anymore with Cuba, so I think I’ll have the opportunity to play with the U.S. national team,” he said. “If the opportunity comes, it’s something I want to do. I’m very happy for that.”

      Added Schmid: “I don’t know if down the line he could be an option for the U.S. national team or not, because I don’t know all the circumstances and whether FIFA would grant him the opportunity to play for the U.S. … They have to look into it. I know it’s happened before. I know Chris Armas played for Puerto Rico before he played for the U.S. and was able to switch even after he had played in some Gold Cup qualifiers.”

      So with new citizenship, plans to bring the family over and prospects of playing for the USMNT, does that mean he sees his career going on in the United States for the foreseeable future?

      “I don’t know. It’s hard question,” said Alonso, who will return from a two-game MLS suspension Wednesday against Kansas City. “You never know in soccer. You have to live in the moment. So if I can play here a long time or if not, we’ll see what happens in the future. My focus now is Seattle.”

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