January 1 marked a new year for Alvaro Fernandez and not just because the calendar said so. That’s the day the Sounders FC midfielder arrived back in Seattle from a short offseason break, and this time he was able to come with his family (paperwork issues last year prevented his wife, Veronica, and young son, Valentino from moving to the U.S.).
The comfort of home has many — including coach Sigi Schmid — thinking that Fernandez could be set for a big year in 2011. I caught up with “Flaco” before the team’s trip to Florida and with the help of a translator, here’s the transcript of that conversation.
Don’t miss the bit on Diego Forlan at the end.
* * *
(Looking back, what was last year like?) “It was difficult to adjust to being here in the United States, especially having my family so far away. But I have a great group of teammates. Everyone has helped me feel comfortable here and that’s made it easier.”
(So how much more at ease have you felt this year?) “We’ve only just started training this year, but it makes it easier that I’m familiar with the team and what’s happening here. Hopefully that will help the whole team play better.”
(When did your family come to Seattle?) “My family arrived here with me at the same time I did on January 1. They’re really liking it here.”
(Are you losing any sleep having the young son around?) “Yeah, actually that’s true. Having a newborn definitely makes the night shorter. You wake up a lot, but it’s really the best thing that could happen to you.”
(How’s the English coming?) “For the time being I haven’t made much progress at all. I hopes as time goes on I’ll learn a little bit more.”
(Any personal goals for this year?) “Personal and professional goals are really important. You have to have them because that’s what keeps you moving forward. Personally I just want to have a good year and really gel with the team. Together with the team we want to go as far as we can. I would also like to play in the Copa America. That really depends on my performance and we’ll see how that goes.”
(Have you been in touch with the national team?) “Yeah, I’ve been in contact with them. The last time was when I was down there in December. There was a friendly where most of the guys who play on the national team were there together. Next time there’s a friendly I’d like to be called in to play.”
(Are you happy with how you played last year?) “I felt comfortable and I felt good, but I didn’t feel like I was exactly at the level I know I can play. I think this year I have a little bit more understanding of how things play in the United States. I think that’ll help me this season.”
(Did you ever talk to Diego Forlan about those rumors to MLS and Seattle?) “When I started to hear the rumors I talked to him to see if it was true if he was coming to MLS and possibly even to the Sounders. He said, sure, he’d really like to but it’s not happening right now. He feels really good about where he is, playing for Atletico Madrid at the time being.”