What else can Álvaro Fernández do? Coach Sigi Schmid will be eager to find out after his newest signing pulled off a small piece of artistry in his first Major League Soccer match.
“Fernández, I thought was solid when he came in,” Schmid said after the Uruguayan’s first Sounders appearance, a 1-0 win at San Jose on Saturday. “We used him on the left and I hadn't seen him touch the ball with his left foot in practice, and right away, he beat the guy and crossed it with his left foot.”
Signed only a day before the match, Fernández had only trained with his team twice before taking the field in an important match against the Earthquakes. With his team holding a 1-0 lead, the midfielder helped Seattle finish the match with an important three points on the road.
Just 20 minutes into his Major League Soccer career, “El Flaco” earned a compliment from his team captain.
“Álvaro came in and didn’t skip a beat,” said goalkeeper Kasey Keller. “He looked like he had been playing with us all year.”
Fernández appeared to adjust to the pace of the American game. He also looked unfazed by the physicality—after a rough tackle took the World Cup veteran to the turf but didn’t result in a foul, the midfielder simply kept playing.
Against San Jose, Fernández’s primary task was to maintain Seattle’s defensive integrity on the left side. He was able to accomplish it as Seattle played out the rest of the match without surrendering an equalizer.
After the match, Keller commented on Fernández’s work rate.
“The top players around the world, the reason why they're top players is they have something, but they also give you everything they have,” Keller said.
Schmid looks forward to seeing the Uruguayan’s contributions. In the absence of the recently departed Freddie Ljungberg, Fernández looks ready to start in midfield once he regains his fitness.
“He connects passes. He also got back and defended. He's very much a two-way player,” Schmid said. “We're going to have a lot of joy with him, he's only practiced once really with us, so as he gets more time with the team and the team understands him and he understands the team, it will be good."