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Osvaldo Alonso’s performance highlights Seattle Sounders’ first win of year

Apr 22, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC defender Roman Torres (29) and Minnesota United FC forward Abu Danladi (9) play for the ball during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders secured their first win of 2018 with a 3-1 home result Sunday against Minnesota United. Goals in quick succession from Gustav Svensson and Will Bruin put Seattle on top, and Jordy Delem slotted in the dagger in stoppage time as Seattle remained a perfect 3-0 all-time against the Loons.

Here are three takeaways from the afternoon:

Osvaldo Alonso’s 1st start in 7 months lasts 75 minutes

The return of Osvaldo Alonso was a revelation for the Sounders. The midfielder, who had not started a match for Seattle since Sep. 27, ate up space in the defensive midfield and helped connect the synapses of the Sounders’ attack with insightful passing.

Alonso completed 56 of his 59 passes (94.9 percent) in his return and made five successful tackles.

Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was happy to have his talisman back on the pitch.

“The emotional side of things is certainly part of who is and what he’s been to this franchise,” Schmetzer said. “We all see that, we all know that, we all sense that when he’s on the field. His soccer has been pretty good, too. When he came on against Kansas City it calmed the team a little bit. It may have gotten lost at the Roldan brothers show at the beginning of the game. I think [today] Ozzie brought the ball from back to front fairly well. It’s great to have him back. It’s great to have guys that know how to play.”

Two (Roldan) heads are better than one

For the second consecutive match, rookie midfielder Alex Roldan started along with his brother Cristian. In a tweak to accommodate the return of Alonso, however, this time the two brothers were pushed together into the attacking band of Schmetzer’s 4-2-3-1.

Schmetzer said the rapid development of Alex, who the Sounders drafted out of Seattle University in the second round of this year’s SuperDraft, is no shock.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Schmetzer said. “We watched him pretty closely when he was at Seattle U. I always liked Alex, I thought he was very, very good. He’s got the same mindset as his brother. Cristian started off fairly well, too, when he started his career. I’m not surprised, I just think it’s a great storyline because Alex is not just becoming Cristian’s brother, he’s becoming his own man and I like that.”

Dempsey left out of starting XI

Clint Dempsey made his first appearance in more than a month for Seattle in the home win. The 35-year-old served a two-game suspension for an apparent low blow on Jacori Hayes, for which he was sent off against FC Dallas March 18. Dempsey appeared as a substitute for Alex Roldan in the 60th minute, ultimately providing the through-ball to Jordy Delem that ensured Seattle’s finish on top of Minnesota.

Schmetzer said the decision to exclude Dempsey primarily centered around the reintegration of Alonso and right back Kelvin Leerdam, both of whom he felt he may need to remove from the match at some point.

“It was a combination of trying to incorporate three players into the squad: Ozzie, Kelvin [Leerdam], and Clint,” Schmetzer said. “Trying to make sound decisions for the best interests of the team. Clint had been off for a long time. Sometimes when you’re off for a long time, you’re not as sharp. If you look historically, it’s goals and shots taken — [Dempsey] scores more and he shoots more in the second half. What we wanted to do was run some of the sting off and bring him into the game and have him be effective while trying to get Ozzie and Kelvin back on the field at the same time, because I didn’t want to have the potential to use all three subs on those players].

“It’s a conversation that you have to have. He’s not happy because he wants to play, but he accepts it because he’s a team guy. He gets grumpy a little bit, but all of them do. None of these guys want to come off the field. They all want to play, they all want to contribute. That’s part of what I appreciate about the guys in that locker room. When you have guys that are like that, you win more games and you lose some.”

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