Nagging injuries preventing Seattle Sounders hardman Osvaldo Alonso from playing true to form

Osvaldo Alonso

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USA TODAY Sports

If Osvaldo Alonso has looked something less than his absolute best this season, there’s a reason: the Seattle Sounders’ ball-winning, hard-tackling, seemingly superhuman defensive midfielder has been carrying various injuries through most of 2014.

And with just one more game before the World Cup break, the Sounders are hoping their newest Designated Player has a chance to recover.

“We’ve just been going easy with Ozzie,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters on Thursday ahead of Saturday's road matchup with the Chicago Fire (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live). “He’s been carrying a few things that we’ve sort of gotten him through and hope to get him through Saturday and then we’ll give him a bit of a break. Hopefully that will give him a chance to recover from it and build back up again.”

To that end, the Sounders have often limited Alonso in training sessions, something they did again on Thursday. At various times, Alonso has worn wraps around his knee and has not always played up to the standards that made him a regular contender for Best XI.

Of course, even a less-than-100-percent Alonso is still among the best defensive midfielders in the league. He ranks third in total duels won and fifth in successful tackles for the Supporters’ Shield-leading Sounders.

“I think he’s doing a good job of recovering prior to games and done a good job of putting his work and effort in during games,” Schmid said. “We’ve been trying to just manage him through the week. His game play has been pretty good. But there’s a limit to how long you can do that.”