Osvaldo Alonso of the Seattle Sounders is the Player of the Round for the Semifinals. Photo: Seattle Sounders FC
Osvaldo Alonso’s tenacious play proved to be a thorn in Chivas USA’s side, and helped Seattle Sounders FC to become only the third team in the tournament’s 99-year history to reach the US Open Cup Final four years in a row. For that performance he was voted TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Semifinals.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters. Teammate Zach Scott and Sporting Kansas City’s Jacob Peterson and Graham Zusi were other leading candidates in the voting.
Alonso earned what could be called soccer’s version of hockey’s “Gordie Howe hat trick” (goal, assist, fighting penalty) in the Semifinal match: a thread-the-needle assist to Eddie Johnson, a penalty kick goal, and a yellow card on the night. His stifling, physical play spurred a solid effort by Seattle’s defense, as Chivas managed only four shots the entire game.
The 26-year-old Cuban defector earned his second POTR honor, also having captured the award for his performance in the 2011 Open Cup Final.
This game was telling of what has been a solid campaign for Alonso, nicknamed “Honey Badger,” who has four goals along with two assists in the 2012 tournament. This puts him in a tie for second place in goalscoring for this Open Cup, one goal behind Carolina RailHawks’ Brian Shriver. Danny Barrera of Cal FC and Ventura County Fusion’s Frankie Lopez are tied with Osvaldo, and teammate Sammy Ochoa is the only other active player in the scoring top 10 (3 goals).
Alonso, who defected stateside from Cuba in 2007, will be playing in his fifth straight Cup Final. He was on Charleston Battery’s losing side in 2008, before establishing himself as a mainstay with Sounders FC in their debut season in MLS the next season, tallying six goals in that span. No one in the Modern Professional Era has appeared in five straight title games, and only two other players (Andy Williams and Peter Vagenas) have played in five championship games since 1995.
He is also the third Sounders player to earn multiple POTR awards, joining Sebastien Le Toux (2007 Round 3, 2009 Semifinals) and Nate Jaqua (2010 Quarterfinals, 2010 Semifinals). Seattle players have also captured the last four Players of the Tournament: Chris Eylander in 2008, Kasey Keller in 2009, Jaqua in 2010, and Fredy Montero last year. Osvaldo has a good case to become the fifth SSFC player on that list with his strong showing throughout the tournament, in both barnburners and defensive grudge matches. However that thought will be far from his mind, as his side will be going for their fourth straight Open Cup title on the road at Sporting Kansas City. The Final will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 8:30 PM ET at LiveStrong Sporting Park.
2012 Player of the Round award winners
Round 1: Danny Barrera (Cal FC) [+] Round 2: Danny Barrera (Cal FC) [+] Round 3: Artur Aghasyan (Cal FC) [+] Round 4: Sainey Touray (Harrisburg City Islanders) [+] Quarterfinals: Jose Correa (Chivas USA) [+] Semifinals: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC)