SEATTLE – In a move that had long been rumored, the Seattle Sounders announced the signing of Uruguay international Álvaro Fernández on Thursday. Fernández is the club’s third designated player, joining Blaise Nkufo and Freddie Ljungberg, and concludes a lengthy courtship from the Sounders.
“We have been tracking Álvaro for a while,” said general manager Adrian Hanauer. “[He has] versatility, quality, character – a lot of the same attributes that we have been interested in all along. We just felt like another quality player was necessary to continue to build on what we have got and certainly to make a run for the playoffs.”
The addition of the versatile the energetic 24-year-old midfielder gives the Sounders more flexibility in attack and strengthens the squad for the second half of the season and brings to a close a fruitful summer transfer window for Seattle.
Fernández last played for Universidad of Santiago in Chile, helping the club to a second place finish in the country’s first division. He also played four matches for Uruguay in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he was first approached by the Sounders.
The Uruguayan admitted he didn’t know anything about the city at that time, but did some research on the internet and called the area “quite lovely.”
"I'm very excited to be playing in the US because the football has grown a lot in the last few years and keeps getting better. Seattle is beautiful and I think it's the ideal place to be with my family,” said Fernández, who is recently married and expecting a child. “All these things helped in making my decision."
Fernández is in Seattle but has not yet been added to the roster. He is pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Also known as El Flaco (the Skinny One), Fernández would appear to be a good fit for the Sounders. He describes himself as “a fast, agile, versatile player able to defend as well as attack.” Based on video compilations available on the internet, the 24-year-old primarily plays an attacking right-sided midfield role.
In the absence of apparently-outgoing Ljungberg, Pat Noonan has been manning that role for Seattle. The addition of Fernández would seem to add more attacking punch to that side of the field, which has alternately been filled by teenager Miguel Montaño and Sanna Nyassi.
Fernández can also function as a classic attacking midfielder, something Seattle have never had.
Sigi Schmid generally favors dual holding midfielders, and a true attacking midfielder in the center of the park could boost Seattle’s offense, allowing the club an extra player in attack.
In recent games, the club has been experimenting with rookie Mike Seamon as an attacking midfielder. Brad Evans had filled that role in 2009, but injuries and a drop in form have limited him in 2010.
Paired with defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, Fernández could form a potent partnership behind strikers Fredy Montero and Nkufo. Hanauer praised the Uruguayan’s versatility, saying that his new signing “can play anywhere across the midfield.”
No matter where he plays, the Fernández signing gives Schmid more options when configuring his lineup. In games against physical opponents, he can go with size (by starting Nkufo and Nate Jaqua) or with speed (by starting Nyassi and Montaño). He’ll also have more options off the bench.
Seattle play at San Jose this Saturday, then continue on to El Salvador for the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League qualifier against Isidro Metapán.