Sounders make Osvaldo Alonso a designated player

Osvaldo Alonso has long been considered one of the Sounders’ best players. Now he’ll be paid like it.

Alonso, who has been voted team MVP by his teammates in each of the last four seasons, has signed a new contract making him one of Seattle’s three designated players, the team announced Tuesday. Per MLS policy, terms of the deal were not announced, but as a DP it’s safe to assume Alonso will be getting a raise from the $210,000 he made in 2013 (MLS teams can have up to three DPs, players who have larger contracts that only partly count towards the salary cap).

Alonso joins Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins as Seattle’s designated players. Mauro Rosales signed a contract before the 2012 deal that made him a DP for the past two seasons, but that deal is now up. Rosales could still be back with Seattle for the 2014 season, but if he is it won’t be as a DP.

Alonso, 28, has been with Seattle since its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, and quickly established himself as one of the team’s key players. Based on Alonso’s play—he is a three-time All-Star and is widely considered one of the league’s best defensive midfielders—most believed it was only a matter of time before he became a DP or left MLS for a league that could pay him more.

“Ozzie is the ultimate competitor who has given everything to Sounders FC,” Sounders general manager/minority owner Adrian Hanauer said in a press release. “His passion for the game of soccer and his drive to be the best are validated by being named team MVP four-consecutive seasons by his teammates. Ozzie is a key building block for our club and we are happy to sign him to a long-term contract extension.”

Alonso defected from Cuba in 2007 while in Houston with the national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cub. Alonso became a U.S. citizen in 2012, and he and the U.S. national team have expressed mutual interest, but because Alonso played for Cuba and left voluntarily, soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, would have to grant an exemption allowing him to change national team allegiances, and so far that hasn’t happened. But while his international career remains in limbo, Alonso now knows his future in Seattle is secure.

“I look back on six years and I can’t imagine this has happened to me – playing professionally and being a citizen in the United States,” Alonso said in a team-provided quote. “For me, it’s unbelievable. Playing here, being in Seattle with the fans. When I look back to when I defected and to be playing right now, it’s amazing for me. I never imagined it would be like it is now.”

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