Sounders one for all, and all for Alonso

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMay 6, 2014 

The Seattle Sounders go into each match with a plan for which player will take a penalty kick if one is awarded.

That plan went out the window Saturday, as a PK was awarded to Seattle, and defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was allowed to take it for family reasons.

The try was no good – pushed off target by diving Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath. Luckily for the Sounders, it didn’t cost them as they came from behind for a 2-1 win.

Afterward, the team – and its coach – portrayed Alonso’s miss as a small price to pay for what they saw as united teammates looking after each other.

“There’s a tremendous character in (our locker room), and there’s a respect for each other,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “As a result of that, they made a decision ... and they backed each other up on that and they fought for each other. ... They love Ozzie, Ozzie loves our team.”

Schmid and some players even speculated that the team probably played harder after the miss to make sure their show of support for Alonso didn’t cost them a game.

“We’re a team,” Lamar Neagle said. “We all support each other, and we all believe in each other.”

The Sounders said Alonso wanted to take the kick in honor of a couple of family milestones: his wife is pregnant with their third child, and his daughter was about to celebrate a birthday.

Veteran defender Djimi Traore pointed out that awarding the kick to Alonso wasn’t necessarily a matter of sacrificing a goal for the sake of team-building. Alonso can score: He has scored eight goals over his six MLS seasons and had converted one of two previous penalty kicks. Also, MacMath has now stopped all three penalty kicks he has faced this season.

“It’s not like Ozzie is a young player or rookie stepping in to take the PK,” Traore said. “Of course, yes, it’s not like the final or something like that. It was a great opportunity for him to score. Unfortunately, he missed; but you can see the response of the team.”

LEFT BACK OPTIONS

When veteran Seattle left back Leo Gonzalez has been unavailable due to injury this season, Schmid has turned to second-year defender Dylan Remick.

Now Remick is also injured, and Schmid is weighing a number of options.

When Remick left in the second half Saturday, Schmid subbed Marco Pappa into midfield and shifted Brad Evans to left back. But after the Sounders’ training session Monday, Schmid stressed that the move was a specific choice for specific needs and might not be repeated Wednesday, when FC Dallas visits CenturyLink Field.

“We’ve got other options,” he said. “Zach Scott is an option. He’s played left back for us a lot over the past few years, so he’s certainly an option there. Micheal Azira can play both outside right or outside left back as well in a pinch. We went with (Evans) in the game because we were losing 1-0. We wanted to get Pappa onto the field, and we thought it made us a more offensive team by keeping Brad at left back.”

Schmid also hasn’t ruled out the most straightforward option: restoring Gonzalez to his regular starting spot. That seems mostly a question of health and fitness as Gonzalez works his way back from a hamstring injury that has kept him out for the past two matches.

Gonzalez trained Monday, and Schmid indicated that even if he isn’t ready for Wednesday, he seems certain to be ready in time for the Sounders’ match Sunday at New England.

Meanwhile, Schmid estimated that Remick will be out one or two weeks with what was diagnosed as a left-ankle sprain.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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