Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso reunites with family after four years
Osvaldo Alonso knew full well the risks he was taking when he defected from Cuba in the summer of 2007.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Osvaldo Alonso knew full well the risks he was taking when he defected from Cuba in the summer of 2007.
While in Houston with his national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Alonso set his sights on a new life, one where he could live out his dreams. But his biggest fear centered on family.
"I came out without knowing when I was going to be able to see them ever again," the Sounders FC midfielder said Sunday through a translator.
For four years his only connection to home was over the phone.
The long and difficult wait ended last week.
Alonso's paternal grandparents, Diosdado Alonso Morales and Irene Pardo Almora, arrived in America on Thursday and attended Saturday's 1-1 tie against Portland at Qwest Field. As retired seniors over the age of 65, they were able to obtain visas valid through October.
The emotional reunion brought out the softer side to Alonso, who's normally a tenacious defensive terror in the middle of the field.
"To have them here, I'm really happy to be at their side," said the 25-year-old Alonso.
Several months ago, Morales and Almora went to the U.S. embassy in Havana to apply for a visa, and were later approved. They arrived in Miami last week, where they were accompanied by Alonso's wife, Liang, to Seattle before the big rivalry game.
"It was a special occasion for (Alonso's grandparents) to be able to see him play and perform," said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid.
"I know for him it's a very proud moment. It's a very special moment."
Alonso grew up with Morales and Almora in San Cristobal, located southwest of the nation's capital. In Cuba he played for FC Pinar del Rio from 2005 to '07 and made 17 appearances for his national team.
Alonso has flourished in his new home. He joined Sounders FC in 2009 after spending a season with Charleston of the USL First Division, when he was league Rookie of the Year.
Last year, he was voted Seattle's team MVP by players and staff. He earned a significant offseason raise and has already established a feared reputation around the league for his defensive grit.
The pain of leaving home proved worth it in the end.
"I am here doing what I like to do," Alonso said, "which is play soccer."
Seattle, Portland reserves battle
Federal Way native Lamar Neagle had a goal and assist to lead Sounders FC to a 3-2 Reserve League win against Portland on Sunday. Pat Noonan and Michael Tetteh also netted goals for Seattle, which improved to 3-0 in the reserve league.
Defender David Horst and midfielder Bim Ogunyemi scored for Portland (1-1).
• Contrary to reports, neither Sounders FC nor Alvaro Fernandez has been contacted by the Uruguayan national team in anticipation for a May 29 friendly against Germany. The 23-man squad in a previous AP report is believed to be a preliminary list of available options.
"It's not a call up at this stage," said Schmid.
• Sounders FC could get a personnel boost this week. Midfielder Erik Friberg had made "good progress" since suffering an ankle sprain Friday, according to Schmid.
Midfielder Brad Evans is day to day with a groin injury, and forward/midfielder Mauro Rosales (hamstring) is expected to get a full week of practice.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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