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Originally published October 2, 2011 at 8:39 PM | Page modified October 3, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso ready for fourth straight Open Cup final

While with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues, Alonso helped beat the USL Sounders in a 2008 Open Cup semifinal via penalty-kick shootout. Charleston lost to heavy favorite D.C. United in the championship game, but Alonso would claim the next two trophies with Sounders FC.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TUKWILA — While Sounders FC prepares for its third straight U.S. Open Cup final on Tuesday, one player will get ready for his fourth.

Indeed, midfielder Osvaldo Alonso has a successful history in the 98-year-old knockout-style tournament that predates coming to Seattle. One of those wins even came at the expense of some of his current teammates.

While with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues, Alonso helped beat the USL Sounders in a 2008 Open Cup semifinal via penalty-kick shootout. Charleston lost to heavy favorite D.C. United in the championship game, but Alonso would claim the next two trophies with Sounders FC.

"For me, it's special," said the 25-year-old Cuban. "Four finals in a row, winning two, I'm very happy for that."

Joked coach Sigi Schmid: "Certainly he's got bragging rights (in our locker room) by being in his fourth."

It's no surprise that team success has followed the soft-spoken yet tenacious Alonso. In 2008, the tireless worker was voted Charleston's team MVP, was named USL Rookie of the Year and earned all-league first-team honors — all just a year after defecting from Cuba.

In Seattle, Alonso is the reigning team MVP and was named an MLS All-Star this season.

Still, Schmid said it's easy to underrate the defensive midfielder.

"It comes with the nature of the position," the coach said. "Obviously, a lot of times the notoriety and the attention goes to the guys who score goals, or the guys who make the clever assists, or sometimes the goalkeepers who make saves, or defenders who save it off the goal line. The guys who do the dirty work in the middle of the field and run up and down, who help organize, who are the first line of defense and the first sometimes components of your attack, they get overlooked.

"I think Alonso is as good as any defensive midfielder in this league."

A mainstay for Sounders FC since Day 1, Alonso leads the team's field players in MLS games (30), starts (29) and minutes (2,621). Tuesday will mark his 39th game and 36th start when factoring in the Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.

He got much-needed rest in Saturday's 2-1 win at New England, playing just 11 minutes off the bench, but said he doesn't need more rest.

"I'm focused on Tuesday to play 90 minutes, 120 minutes, whatever (is needed)," Alonso said.

NOTES

• General manager Adrian Hanauer said he thinks Tuesday's final will draw a crowd around 35,000, which would set the record for highest attendance at a championship game in Open Cup history.

"I'm thrilled. ... It's a big number," said Hanauer, who thanked a business partnership with the Seahawks for boosting ticket sales.

• Midfielder Mauro Rosales, who sprained his right knee two weeks ago, will be a game-time decision Tuesday.

"We hope at the very least he's a sub for us," Schmid said.

• Defender James Riley (concussion) has been practicing the last few days, but will need final clearance Monday to play.

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

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