"It's a bit different,” Alonso said today through an interpreter. “It's been four years since the last time they watched me play, so yeah. I'm just happy that they're here watching me play again."
Alonso defected while in Houston with the Cuban national team during the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He played the 2008 season with Charlston of the USL and then joined the Sounders in their expansion season of 2009. Last season, he was named the club’s most valuable player.
His paternal grandparents – Diosadado Alonso Morales, 72, and Irene Pardo Almore, 70 – still live in Cuba but are visiting on a six-month visa obtained through the U.S. embassy.
Alonso said that they were more like parents to him. And when he decided to defect, he did so with the fear that he might never see them again.
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"The hardest thing is making the decision was obviously parting with my family,” he said. “But I am here what I like to do, which is play soccer."
Alonso said his grandparents are staying with him, that the length of their stay is not yet determined, but that they will return to Cuba.