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November 7, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Sounders stars reflect on season and futures in Seattle

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgThe Sounders held their exit interviews before leaving for the offseason. Reporters got a chance to speak with forward Fredy Montero and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez, among others. Here a transcript of conversations with those players, including thoughts on if their futures lie in Seattle:

* * *

FREDY MONTERO, Sounders FC forward

(On the season…) “For me, it was good. I think the second part of the year I had very good games. I found my game; it was good for me. For the team, the whole year was great until the last game and the playoffs.”

(Did you feel a difference in the second half of the season, personally?) “Yeah, definitely, because of my injury (and) surgery. After that I had to play with a cast on. I never had the excuse to say, ‘OK, I’m not playing good or scoring goals because of my cast.’ In that moment I said, ‘We have to be better. I have to keep working hard to find my game.’ ”

(Looking back on it now, was the cast a big reason for those early struggles?) “Yeah. Today I think it was one of the reasons why I couldn’t find my game for the first half of the year.”

(Have you thought about your future and if it lies elsewhere?) “I’m happy here. I’m so proud to be (with the) Sounders. The thing is, you as a player, you never know. If offers are coming, you have to think about it and if it’s going to be better for me, for family and for my future. We have to be focused on what is good for me, but I’m happy here in Seattle.”

(On losing in the first round again…) “We wanted to advance past that round, but we didn’t. We have to think for the next season and be more prepared for the playoffs. That’s most important.”

(On forward partners this year…) “For me, I feel great playing with my teammates here. I think when I was injured the guys out there did a great job. When I come back to the field I did my best always.”

(On Colombian national team prospects…) “That’s a big motivation for me because (you) always want to be part of the national team. That’s one thing that I want to do for the next year — give my best to the team I’m playing with, scoring goals and go to the Colombian national team again.”

(What are you offseason plans?) “Next couple months? I will be here in Seattle with my family. I want to go to Colombia for a couple weeks. I want to go to Hawaii, too. It’s going to be a busy vacation, but the most important thing is when I’m here in Seattle, I have to come to the gym with (fitness coach Dave Tenney), with the Sounders staff to keep working.”

OSVALDO ALONSO, Sounders FC midfielder (via translator)

(On the season…) “I’m really happy with everything we accomplished this season. Of course there’s always that feeling that maybe we could’ve done a little bit more, but we’ll leave that for next season and hopefully we accomplish everything that we set out to accomplish.”

(How close is this to being an MLS Cup caliber team?) “This year we had a setback in Real Salt Lake and it was a game that didn’t go very well for us, but we still don’t feel like the MLS Cup is very far. We know that we have a great team and we can win it. We’ll give it a go next season again.”

(What are your offseason plans?) “In the offseason I’m just going to keep training and stay in shape and get ready for the first game of the season, which is a CONCACAF game, and just stay focused on that.”

(Have you thought about your future maybe being elsewhere?) “I’m still right here in Seattle and I’m happy here. If, in the future, there’s a different opportunity, then that’ll be the right moment, but right now I’m very happy where I am.”

(Where would you like to improve for next season?) “I’m just going to keep working the same way I’ve been working. Try to improve my level a little bit, but just keep working as hard as I can work for the team and try to move us forward.”

(Would you like to train in England again?) “If the opportunity presented itself, it’s absolutely something that I’d be interested in repeating. Hopefully there’s a team out there that would like to have me come train with them.”

(Have you heard about your nickname, The Honey Badger?) “Yeah, I’ve heard a little bit about it and that’s fine. If that’s what people want to call me, I’m not going to argue with them. I’m just glad they have a good nickname for me.”

MAURO ROSALES, Sounders FC midfielder

(You seem to be walking well…) “Yeah, I’m walking, running — not shooting the ball.”

(Think you might’ve been able to play on Sunday?) “I don’t know. I’m still working and trying now. After Wednesday, we stopped pushing harder. Now was the step to take a rest a little bit with my knee. I will try now going to be better … for the preseason.”

(On the season…) “I think it was a great year. I think we had a very successful year about all the stuff — supporters, as a team, as a group, and we won many things (also off) the field. Personally, I enjoyed a lot my first year here. (I had just joined the team) and after weeks I was one of them. They took me in like (I was) part of them for years already. I had a very good year meeting people, great people, and how we played this year was also very good. (It was) a pity about we ended in the playoffs, but we also have to think that we played three consecutive tournaments at a time and don’t have 40 to 50 players to (compete in all of) these kind of tournaments. In a very tough tournament like the CONCACAF Champions League, we play against teams from Mexico that have an unlimited (salary) cap for anything, and they can buy whatever players that they want. We have been doing very good and we made records this season — we made 63 points.”

(On staying here two more years…) “Yeah, I would love to. I think also in my mind it’s trying to stay longer than that. I don’t want to put a limit to how many years I want to be here. I really want to be (here) for a long time.”

(On midfield competition…) “I think it’s (good) if you are training and playing hard to become a better team. It’s good if you have a challenge on who’s going to play. It’s good for the coach also to have a doubt in who’s going to go in if we play and we train hard all year long to be in the team. I think this year was like that. Every player was doing his best, and when the coach needed him, he was ready. … Everybody wants to be in the starting 11 since I’ve been here. Everybody wants to work hard. This is why I think we were successful all year long, because everybody was ready in every minute if the coach called his name.”

(Update on contract negotiations…) “I think it’s almost done. There are a few details and I will wait a little bit more, but I think in these (upcoming) weeks there will be news on what it’s going to be.”

(This week?) “Maybe this week. Before I go back for my holiday. I don’t know when I will go back to Argentina, but I want to do it before I go.”

(What are your plans? Going to Argentina?) “Yeah, I want to see my family. It’s been a long time that I couldn’t see my family and friends and be in my country, but I will stay here longer. I’m working on many (things) and I want to be done with everything and then I can take my break.”

(Did you anticipate you’d like Seattle this much?) “I really didn’t expect (it to be) like that, but I expected to be successful individually. I tried to do my best every time I came on the field — working hard, trying to help the team as much as I can. This was my reason to come here and try to have a successful year. We had a successful year and I’m happy for that. (I’m hoping next year we’ll) come with more expectations, with more stuff to do, and we’ll try and be a better team next year. We have to go to the offseason now and charge our energy and come next year and try to break more records.”

ALVARO FERNANDEZ, Sounders FC midfielder (via translator)

(On the season…) “It was a season that had a lot of positives, but also there are a lot of things that we see that we can do better to have a better season next year.”

(On joining the national team…) “Unfortunately, after the injury in the last game, it’s going to be impossible. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to travel and go with the team when it’s virtually impossible that I’d play with the injury.”

(How frustrating is it to miss out again?) “It’s very frustrating because it’s been the same thing. The last two times that they’ve called me I’ve had an injury and haven’t been able to play. It’s a great opportunity and it’s very frustrating not to be able to follow through.”

(Have you thought about if your future is in Seattle or elsewhere?) “I’m very happy here in Seattle. I’m really happy with how my season went on a personal level and I’m proud of the team on a team level. I would be very happy to stay here. I’m planning to stay here. I would be very happy to stay here because each year I feel a little bit more comfortable and I’m looking forward to the season.”

(On being a goal-scoring threat…) “Yeah, I want to continue that way and I think it’s in part credit to my teammates who get the ball to me. We’re all working hard to get those goals in and I’d just like to continue being the threat that we’ve all been.”

(On playing as a center mid…) “That’s actually a question that would be better addressed to Sigi because he’s the one who puts players where they need to play. Wherever he puts me I’ll be happy to play and I’ll do my best, and I think I’ll be fine.”

(*Offseason plans…) “I’m going to be headed to Uruguay for the offseason.”

* — Translator Rachel Escoto provided this update: “He’s in the process of getting his green card, so he has to go through a process of getting permission to leave. He has to get sort of a stamp in his visa that says he can go.”

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