Leo Gonzalez’s time with the Seattle Sounders is officially up.
The veteran defender, who has been with the club since Seattle’s inaugural MLS season in 2009, re-joined Costa Rican club CS Herediano, it was announced Tuesday, where he started his professional career in 2000.
At the close of this past season, the 35-year-old Gonzalez was one of just four players remaining from the team’s first season in MLS, but Seattle opted not to pick up his option earlier this month. Gonzalez appeared in 137 regular season games – third in club history – and another 13 in the playoffs over seven seasons for the Sounders. He was also named the club’s Defender of the Year in 2013.
After the Sounders opted not to renew his contract, Gonzalez went unselected following this year’s MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Sounders general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey acknowledged earlier this month that Gonzalez’s role with the team went beyond his performance on the pitch, as he spoke of both the left back and his fellow Sounders original Zach Scott, whose option was also declined by the club.
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“It’s their contributions that you measure both on the field and off the field,” Lagerwey told SoundersFC.com. “It’s part of who we are and part of how we’ve connected with our community. We owe those guys a tip of the cap and as much respect as we can pay them, whether they wind up continuing with their playing careers or doing something else.”
Gonzalez finished his career in Seattle with two goals and four assists.