By John Boyle
Major League Soccer announced its schedule for season openers Tuesday, and Sounders FC is part of a group of games kicking off the season on March 2. Seattle will host the Montreal Impact, and no, it’s not your imagination, the MLS season is starting earlier and earlier each year. That early start could benefit Seattle, which plays the first leg of the CONCACAF quarterfinals some time between March 5-7, and unlike past years when MLS teams were at a big disadvantage against Mexican clubs, which were in midseason form. One game isn’t a lot, but any meaningful competition prior to that quarterfinal would seemingly be beneficial (unless that game was on the 5th, which wouldn’t give the Sounders much recovery time).
We already know Seattle will be without two players for that game—midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who received a red card after the final whistle of Seattle’s last playoff game for confronting an official (he was already on a yellow card), and Marc Burch, who was handed a three-game suspension for using a gay slur towards an opponent).
And speaking of Alonso, the team confirmed Tuesday that he is in England training for a week with English Premier League club West Ham United. Alonso and Steve Zakuani both trained in England with Everton two years ago in the offseason, and this by no means Alonso has one foot out the door—it’s pretty common for players to train with other teams in their offseason, sometimes even playing for them on loan, then return to their team—but it is yet another sign that teams at higher levels are aware of Alonso’s talents. One of the league’s best defensive midfielders, Alonso has been name Seattle’s MVP three times, been an MLS All Star twice, and this year he was named to the MLS Best XI.