SEATTLE – Osvaldo Alonso wasn’t about to miss this.
After spending much of the week training on the side while nursing some kind of abdominal strain, the Seattle Sounders midfielder was a full participant in Friday’s training session and head coach Sigi Schmid said Alonso is fit for Sunday’s game against the Portland Timbers (9 pm ET; ESPN in the US, TSN2 in Canada, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“We were just trying to be careful with him, make sure he had a chance to recover from the injury,” Schmid said. “Ozzie’s the kind of guy that will try to train through anything. Sometimes with Alonso you have to put the shackles on him and hold him back a little bit. We could probably have let him go on Tuesday but we wanted to be more conservative with him.”
Just how big of a hole would Alonso have left if he didn’t play? Sounders technical director Chris Henderson told ExtraTime Radio earlier this week that Alonso is the team’s most important player and should even be in the running for league MVP.
Alonso currently leads the Sounders in minutes played with 2,328 and has contributed one goal and two assists in league play. More than that, he also brings a certain bite to the team that no other player can quite replicate. The Sounders have gone 1-1-2 and been outscored 5-4 in the four games he hasn’t played this year. Dating back to 2010, they are 4-1-7 in games he did not play.
In other words, his intangibles are tangible – and desperately needed against a bitter rival.
“Against Portland, we always come to win that game,” Alonso said. “We step on the field to win. It doesn’t matter how, but at the end of the day we need to walk away with three points.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.