FC Cincinnati have reportedly offer Ozzie Alonso a two-year contract. The former Seattle Sounders midfielder is needed for what happens away from the pitch.
When New York City FC were preparing for their first foray into Major League Soccer, they needed a leader, someone to represent them to the league, to provide experienced, knowledgeable influence in the dressing room, and to lead the squad into these new endeavours.
In David Villa, NYCFC found the perfect individual. He may not have played in MLS previously and had much to learn about the league, America, and the oddities of football in MLS, but he was a World Cup winner, one of the greatest strikers of his generation, and willing to work hard, on and off the pitch.
He is now the record appearance, record goalscorer, and one of the founding fathers of one of the more successful franchises in MLS in recent years. He was precisely the man they needed, as much for what he did off the pitch as on it.
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FC Cincinnati are now embarking on the same journey that NYCFC did four years ago. Although they have prior experience of playing in USL and can lean on players that understand American soccer, as well as some nice pick-ups in the offseason like Greg Garza to aid their transition into the elite league of North America, a leading presence could still be a neat acquisition to the dressing room and club. And it seems as though FC Cincinnati agree.
According to reports last week and over the week, FCC have offered a two-year contract to Seattle Sounders free agent, Ozzie Alonso, who is expected to leave Century Link Field have 10 years plying his trade in the great stadium. The longtime captain of the Sounders, there are few players that can call on the nous and poise of Alonso, on and off the pitch.
Whether he will ultimately sign for Cincinnati remains to be seen. Whether he can still perform, after an increasing frequency and ferocity of injuries, at 34 years of age, also remains to be seen. But it is easy to see why the MLS’ latest expansion wants Alonso at their club.
It would be a rare quality to add a player of Alonso’s leadership and understanding to the dressing room. In an odd sort of way, it almost doesn’t matter whether he can play at the same level as he did for so many years in Seattle. Yes, he will still be required to play in the midfield and hold his own, but Cincinnati are not just looking to scrappy tackles and metronomic passing.
The intangibles of sport are a fascinating study. How much they impact teams is difficult to define and how prioritised they should be when building a roster is equally tough to decipher. But what cannot be questioned is that for a team that is entering into a new league with lots of players that have either never played in it or not had success in it, adding a proven winner to the squad is no bad thing.
Alonso, should he sign, would arrive in Cincinnati not for us his influence on the pitch. He would be there for what he provides off it, his leadership, character and experience. And that should not be overlooked whatsoever.