SEATTLE – It has been said that Osvaldo Alonso, aka “Honey Badger,” doesn’t much care.
While that may be true when it comes to who his opponent may be, it most certainly is not when it comes to winning.
Alonso’s desire to win, no matter what the competition, is a major reason he finds himself playing in a fifth straight US Open Cup final and attempting to lead the Seattle Sounders to a historic fourth consecutive title. The Sounders will face Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday (9 pm ET, GolTV) with a chance to become the first team to win the 99-year-old tournament four straight times.
“It feels so great,” Alonso told MLSsoccer.com. “My fifth final, I have the opportunity to win four in a row. Nobody in MLS has won four in a row. For us, it’s going to be tremendous.”
That Alonso finds himself in this position is no mere coincidence. The defensive midfielder was one of the key reasons that the Charleston Battery was the last non-MLS team to advance to the Open Cup final, accomplishing that feat in 2008.
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Along the way, the Battery had to beat two MLS teams and twice win in a penalty shootout, with Alonso converting in both. The last of those shootout wins was over the then-USL Seattle Sounders in the semifinals.
It wasn’t the first time the Sounders were made aware of Alonso but it may well have been the performance that convinced them to sign the recent Cuban defector.
“He’s a winner,” said Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer, who is never at a loss for words when discussing Alonso’s positive attributes. “He’s a battler. He’s a team guy. And he absolutely hates to lose – maybe more than anyone in our organization. Those are the types of guys that help you win championship.”
Upon joining the Sounders for their inaugural MLS campaign, that’s exactly what he’s done. During his four years in Seattle, he is among the team leaders with 922 minutes of Open Cup playing time, scoring five goals in the process. This year has been his best, as he leads the Sounders with four goals and two assists.
“He’s been the engine of this team for four years and, when he was at Charleston, it was the same thing,” said Sounders defender Patrick Ianni, who is among a group of eight current Sounders who has played on all four Open Cup finalists. “[Getting to five straight finals] doesn’t surprise me at all. Five years is kind of ridiculous but four years in the finals is pretty ridiculous, too.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.