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February 1, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Catching up with Osvaldo Alonso

alonso mug 2012.jpgThe Sounders are off in Arizona, but a few of us reporters were able to catch up with midfielder Osvaldo Alonso before the trip.

The Cuban-American is coming off his best year as a professional. Along with being named Seattle’s team MVP for the third straight time, he was once again named an MLS All-Star and, most impressively, named to the MLS Best XI.

So what are his thoughts going into the 2013 season?

“We expect this year is going to be great for us,” Alonso said.

There will be an added challenge to the upcoming season. Fredy Montero going out on loan to Colombia’s Millonarios is the loss of a star forward but also a close friend (both were Sounders originals for the franchise’s first four years).

“It’s always tough, you know?” Alonso said. “But you know soccer is like that. We have to look forward, move forward.”

Forward for Alonso on the club level is clear: Leading the Sounders to an MLS Cup. Coach Sigi Schmid said on a conference call Friday that the midfielder’s leadership by example is crucial.

Forward for Alonso on the international level is less clear. The Honey Badger played for the Cuban national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup before defecting to the United States in June of 2007. He became an American citizen last year, which opened the door — at least a sliver — for a possible future with the U.S. men’s national team since he is no longer eligible to play for Cuba.

So has FIFA told Alonso about his eligibility? Not yet.

“We’re still working on that,” he said. “We hope this year good news is coming for me. I’m waiting for that.”

Alonso went to train with West Ham United of the Premier League over the offseason, leaving some fans fearful he might not return to Seattle. Many of those fans were probably still crossing their fingers until the close of the European transfer window Thursday.

He called the training stint a great experience and said his wife, Liang, had noticed some nervous messages from fans online while he was gone.

And now?

“I’m here in Seattle,” he said with a smile. “Nothing to worry about.”

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