The man who runs the Seattle Sounders midfield will now have the status and contract to match his on-field impact.
The Sounders announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have signed midfielder Osvaldo Alonso to a new multi-year contract that makes him a Designated Player. His previous deal, which he signed in February 2011, was due to run out in 2014.
"Ozzie is the ultimate competitor who has given everything to Sounders FC," Sounders owner and GM Adrian Hanauer said in a statement. "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."
Alonso, 28, has been the Sounders' most consistent player since the club made the jump up to MLS in 2009. He has averaged 27 regular-season starts per year, was named to the MLS All-Star team three times, and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2012. He was also named club MVP four seasons running.
"Alonso is the model of consistency for us in central midfield," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said in a statement. "His on-field leadership and tenacious play make him one of the top holding midfielders in the league."
The Cuban native, who defected to America during the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, had another banner year in 2013, making 26 starts in the 2013 regular season and logging 2,179 minutes. Those numbers made him the first player in club history to make 110 starts, 120 appearances and play 10,000 minutes.
Overall, Alonso leads the Sounders in games played (139), games started (135), minutes (11,839) and ranks second in shots (180). He is also tied for fifth with 12 assists, tied for 10th with six goals and his two postseason goals are second-most in club history.
"I am excited for the contract Seattle gave me," Alonso in a statement. "I am very happy for the confidence they placed in me to play several more years here. I hope I can help bring an MLS Cup to Seattle."
Alonso was granted full US citizenship on June 16, 2012.