E Pluribus Loonum: Ozzie Alonso had a long history in Seattle, how is it when you see him as opposition and what is the fans response when they see him in the Black and Blue of MNUFC?
Sounder at Heart: When he first left the focus was on Alonso getting paid, because even though he was eventually a DP with Seattle he often wasn’t paid enough. That’s part of being a function of him coming up through MLS and part because no one values defensive midfielders like attackers. At first his appearances were off-putting. He didn’t belong there. With time that feeling has faded. For myself, the sad part is no longer that he’s no longer a regular — a harsh reminder that even our heroes age.
EPL: Last year Sounders finished 2nd in the West and 6th overall, this season they are sitting atop both tables through 13 matches. Since entering MLS, Seattle has never finished lower than 4th in the West and 7th overall. What is the “secret sauce” so to speak about keeping Sounders so good and consistent year after year.
SAH: The leadership committee. No individual member has been so important that they couldn’t be lost (Sigi Schmid was fired, Adrian Hanauer promoted himself out of his role, Chris Henderson left for Miami, Kurt Schmid left for Galaxy with his father). But the consistent culture of the Seattle Sounders goes to how they’ve connected to the NASL legends like recently passed Jimmy Gabriel, how the A-League/USL era players and coaches carried the legacy, and now how majority owner Hanauer and current coach Brian Schmetzer instill the belief that team is more important than individual at every portion of the club. That team over individual dynamic has meant that the Sounders empire has only missed the playoffs twice since 94 and never as an MLS club.
EPL: What are the keys MNUFC needs to exploit in order to get three points against Seattle?
SAH: Seattle is suffering from injuries and international duty. A consistent high press that forces exhaustion from the starters will force Schmetzer to use his bench of teenagers and hardship callups. While the Sounders staring XI is capable of winning road matches there will be, at most, a single veteran on the bench. If the Loons choose to hold on for a 0-0, 1-1 situation until late Heath’s side will be in a strong position.