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Originally published Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 10:00 PM

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Sounders FC's Alvaro Fernandez's crazy summer

Uruguayan midfielder played in a World Cup, got married, had a baby and found a new team this summer. No wonder he's smiling.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Wednesday

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TUKWILA — Alvaro Fernandez can't help but smile as he reflects on his crazy summer.

First, the 24-year-old represented Uruguay in the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Then he got married to his wife Veronica. Finally, she gave birth to their first child, Valentino, earlier this month.

"Fue un año muy lindo para mí," he says to a translator in his native Spanish.

It's been a beautiful year for me.

Beautiful but busy. On top of the paramount moments in his life — both professionally and personally — Fernandez has also had to adapt to a new team, league and country since joining Sounders FC as a designated player in late July.

Day by day, he's feeling more at ease in his new surroundings.

"We're getting there," he said. "I'm still missing a few things to feel completely at home."

Most notably absent is his family. Despite instantly adjusting to the team — including scoring two big goals in his first two weeks — Fernandez is counting the days until his wife and son arrive from Uruguay. Veronica and Valentino could be here by next week pending visa approval.

The Sounders, on the other hand, didn't have to wait long for their newest addition to produce. Though Fernandez is one of the team's highest-paid players, his selfless attitude stands out.

Kasey Keller and Fredy Montero have lauded Fernandez as a perfect teammate.

Said coach Sigi Schmid, "I've been very proud of what he's given our team. He's played for us wide left. He's played wide right. He's played in the middle of midfield. He's come off the bench for us. He's started for us. Whatever role you put him in he's there."

The man they call "El Flaco" — "The Skinny One" — is hoping he's here to stay and is under contract through 2011. After living out of a hotel for the first couple of weeks, Fernandez has moved into an apartment and has bought some furniture. He's also learning English in his spare time.

Settling in can be a long process.

"The reality is a player probably doesn't get 100 percent comfortable until he's been with a team from the beginning of preseason and been through the whole process," general manager Adrian Hanauer said. "I think he's fitting in great, and he's also playing extremely well."

Fernandez has struggled recently with a heavy travel load — a trip to Uruguay after the birth of his son in addition to the team's hectic international schedule. Adjusting to artificial surfaces and the bruising style of play in MLS has also taken time.

"I came to play, and I just have to get used to it," said Fernandez, who helped Uruguay to a fourth-place World Cup finish. "I have to remember what job I came to do."

A new team. A new country. A new life. One crazy summer.

NOTES

• More than 25,500 tickets have been sold for the U.S. Open Cup final against Columbus on Oct. 5 at Qwest Field. For Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League game against Honduran club C.D. Marathon, more than 10,000 tickets are sold.

• Backup goalkeeper Terry Boss has been called up by the Puerto Rican national team for Caribbean Championship Stage 1 matches this weekend. The team will use an MLS emergency-pool goalkeeper to back up Keller.

• Forward/midfielder Pat Noonan was scheduled to have hip surgery Tuesday in Colorado. Noonan is out for the season.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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