Ozzie Alonso ready to help Atlanta United win trophies

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Ozzie Alonso has almost 28,000 MLS minutes on his 36-year-old legs.

What legs they are.

One MLS Cup. One Supporter’s Shield. Four U.S. Open Cup.

Now, Alonso said Thursday he is hoping to squeeze a few more minutes out of those legs to help Atlanta United challenge for its second MLS Cup, second U.S. Open Cup and first Supporter’s Shield. Outside of the shortened 2020 season, he’s never played fewer than 1,412 minutes in a season.

“I need to try to find a way to get into the team first,” he said. “You know you never know in soccer. You know my main goal is go there, find a way into the team and do my best. I don’t know how many minutes I’m going to play. I know how many games are there, but it’s about going there, day by day train and every day, and you will be ready for for anything.”

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Alonso was recruited by manager Gonzalo Pineda, his former teammate and then assistant coach at Seattle. Alonso said it’s easy to talk to Pineda, whom he described as a very passionate player with a fierce desire to win.

The two talked because Alonso was a free agent after playing the previous three seasons with Minnesota. Atlanta United needed a player with the experience and steel to dictate pace and affect results, especially late in games. The club dropped 13 points last season when leading games at the 75th minute, including watching four wins turn into draws at home. It either won 12 points or failed to win 27 when tied at the 75th minute. It went 4-0-5 in those games. It went 0-8-2 when trailing at the 75th minute.

Alonso said as he has gained experience, age and miles on his legs he has learned a few things about himself and keeping results.

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First, he said he’s learned better how to read games and angles. With that, he can make decisions when to make fouls or when to take a few extra seconds with the ball to starve the opponent from an opportunity to do anything to try to affect the outcome.

The club also needed someone to be an example for its two young defensive midfielders, Santiago Sosa, 22, and Franco Ibarra, 20. Alonso said he doesn’t know the two players personally but has watched them and knows that they are quality.

“It’s going to be good for me to be an example for them,” he said.

One more impressive thing about Alonso, and perhaps another reason that Atlanta United pursued him, is his streak of never missing the playoffs. That’s 14 consecutive years of participating in the postseason. After all, a team can’t win a trophy if it doesn’t qualify. Atlanta United missed in 2020 and took probably too long considering the talent on the roster to secure a spot in 2021.

Alonso said they key is consistency, which comes from passion.

Even at 36 and nearing 30,000 minutes, Alonso is still very much motivated.

“I’m still hungry to win, hungry to play, hungry to do my best for the team,” he said.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2

Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2

Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2

Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0

Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto 0

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1

Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0

Sept. 15 Atlanta United 4, Cincinnati 0

Sept. 18 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Sept. 25 Philadelphia 1, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 29 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 0

Oct. 2 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

Oct. 16 Atlanta United 2, Toronto 0

Oct. 20 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

Oct. 27 Atlanta United 2, Miami 1

Oct. 30 Atlanta United 1, Toronto1

Nov. 3 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

Nov. 7 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 1