It’s official: United brings in Ozzie Alonso to help leaky defense; a right back target surfaces
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United announced Thursday the official addition of defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso as well the groundwork necessary to bring the four-time MLS all-star to the Loons.
United said it traded a 2020 second-round SuperDraft pick and the fourth slot in the league’s waiver wire to Orlando City to acquire two 2019 fourth-round picks and the first spot in the waiver order. With that waiver slot, Minnesota selected Alonso, a 32-year-old Cuban who was out of contract with the Seattle Sounders after the 2018 season.
“We’ve just added a great leader and a warrior to our roster, “ United sporting director Manny Lagos said in a statement. “It’ll be nice to have him on the field playing for us rather than against us. He’s going to come in and complement and develop our midfield core.”
Alonso has U.S. citizenship and will not take up one of the Loons’ international roster spots. He earned $1.1 million in 2018, according to MLS players’ union figures. Alonso has become one of the Loons highest-paid players, earning around $700,000 in 2019 and $600,000 in 2020, with a club option for 2021, according to MLSsoccer.com.
Said head coach Adrian Heath: “We are bringing in one of the the best, most competitive and tenacious defensive midfielders in the league. The first thing we heard when speaking with players, front-office staff and coaches about Ozzie was that he is a leader (and) he won’t accept losing.”
The Loons are 21-38-9 in their first two seasons, with the most goals allowed in a two-year stretch in league history (141). At 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds, Alonso’s role will be a gritty stopper in front of the Loons’ defensive back line expected to reverse course in 2019.
Commentator Bobby Warshaw praised United’s acquisition from an MLS perspective earlier this week.
Ozzie Alonso “is one of the two if (not) the single best player at the defensive mid position in the last 10 years,” Warshaw, a former MLS player said on Extra Time Radio. Given MNUFC’s enormous defensive struggles, this move “makes so much sense.”
The Sounders bid farewell to a “club legend” who helped lead them to MLS Cup in 2016, the club said in a tweet. Alonso ranks first in Seattle history in games played, games started and total minutes, and was the last player from the club’s inaugural season in 2009.
One target emerges
With the addition of Alonso and Jan Gregus, a Slovakian midfielder signed on a Designated Player contract in December, the Loons have addressed two major roster needs, with remaining fills expected yet at right fullback, goalkeeper and center back.
A source told the Pioneer Press there’s weight to a report from L’Equipe in France that said the Loons have offered a two-year contract to Romain Metanire, a right back who plays for Stade de Reims in the top French league.
Matanire, a 28-year-old Frenchman, has played 313 minutes in five of the 11 matches Reims has played in the 2018-19 season, according to L’Equipe.
The Loons have the seventh overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft on Friday in Chicago. They also have a second-round pick (31st overall) and two fourth-round selections (75th and 94th), which were acquired in the trade with Orlando on Thursday.
United took forward Abu Danladi with the first overall pick in their expansion season in 2017. They pulled off a series of trades and drafted three rookies a year ago — forward Mason Toye (7th pick), center back Wyatt Omsberg (15th) and right back Carter Manley (23th). All four are developmental pieces with the Loons going into 2019.
Former Minnesota Gophers women’s soccer player April Bockin of Eden Prairie, Minn., was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer league draft Thursday in Chicago. Bockin led the NCAA in assists (12) as a junior in 2017, and her 13 goals in 2018 was best on the team and tied for 20th in nation.