Veteran midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Marco Pappa will carry the weight of added expectations on their backs this season with Seattle Sounders FC.
During the offseason, Alonso was upgraded to designated-player status, while Pappa’s change is literally on his back: the jersey No. 10, which has come to be associated with some of the greatest players in the game.
Pappa, however, doesn’t feel any added pressure.
“I tell you,” he said, “I hope I can bring some skill to the team.”
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History says he can. Pappa has 30 appearances with the Guatemalan national team. In Major League Soccer, he scored 26 goals with 16 assists in 112 appearances with the Chicago Fire from 2008-12.
However, he spent last season seeing little action with Dutch club Heerenveen. When Pappa returned to MLS, the Sounders held his allocation rights and used them Jan. 31, rejecting trade offers from Chicago.
Pappa was asked if a return to the Fire might have been easier.
“For sure it’s a club that is always a part of my career,” he said. “In football, you have to make decisions, also. And I know Seattle in the times I’ve been in MLS, they have Open Cup finals and trophies, so I think they have a team to fight for important things in the league. So I’m pretty happy to be a part of the Sounders.”
As for the No. 10 jersey,
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said he didn’t even know Pappa would wear it until he saw him on the training field.
“He a player who’s been around the league, so he knows what he’s doing,” Schmid said. “(The No. 10 jersey) brings a little bit of responsibility, but guys thrive with that as well.
“With Ozzie, I think he’s worked very hard and played very hard for us, was MVP of the team for a number of years and deserves the promotion to a DP (designated player), and I think he’s got the shoulders that are broad enough to deal with them.”
Alonso had been voted the Sounders’ most valuable player for four consecutive seasons and is a three-time MLS All-Star. He is the franchise leader in games played (139), starts (135) and minutes (11,839). He ranks second in shots (180) and is tied for fifth with 12 assists and tied for 10th with six goals. His two postseason goals are second on the club playoff list.
During the offseason, Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer listed Alonso, designated player Clint Dempsey and midfielder Brad Evans as “a triumvirate of club leaders” for the coming seasons.
“I’m very happy for the team giving me the new contract,” Alonso said Thursday. “(But) I try to play my best every time I step to the field. I give my best for my team. ... The important thing for me is to continue playing at a high level and give everything for my team.”
Second-round draft pick Jimmy Ockford is scheduled for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam on his injured knee, Schmid said. ... The Sounders trained Thursday on an artificial turf field at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, giving their usual natural-grass practice field additional time to grow in properly. Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt