Atlanta United signs veteran leader Ozzie Alonso

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel, left gets a shot on goal off under pressure from Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, right, in the first half of an MLS soccer match, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Credit: Ted S. Warren

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Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel, left gets a shot on goal off under pressure from Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, right, in the first half of an MLS soccer match, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Credit: Ted S. Warren

Credit: Ted S. Warren

Hoping to fulfill its desire for an experienced leader with MLS knowledge, Atlanta United signed free-agent midfielder Ozzie Alonso to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday evening.

Alonso, 36, has made 338 appearances, compiled at Seattle from 2009-18, when he played with and then was coached by Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda, and Minnesota from 2019-21.

His bona fides include winning four U.S. Open Cups, one MLS Cup, one Supporters’ Shield, being named to four All-Star teams and one Best XI. He has appeared in at least 23 games in 12 of his 13 seasons. Before MLS he played for the Charleston Battery. He also has 17 appearances for the Cuban national team. He is now an American citizen.

The hope is that Alonso will help Atlanta United better close games. The team dropped 13 points from winning positions after the 75th minute in 15 games last season, won only two points from 10 games in which it was trailing at the mark, and picked up 12 points in nine games in which it was tied at the mark. The club also hopes that Alonso can show by example the nuances of the position to young midfielders Santiago Sosa and Franco Ibarra.

Alonzo will be signed for the senior minimum salary and will be on the supplemental roster, so he won’t count against the salary cap. He signed a one-year contract, with a team option for 2023, Atlanta United said in a news release.

We’re pleased Ozzie has chosen to sign with us in free agency,” Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement from the club. “A proven leader, Ozzie is one of the most respected and decorated players in our league. His veteran presence on the field and in the locker room will be a great addition for our club.”

The team’s roster:

Goalkeepers (2): Dylan Castanheira, Brad Guzan.

Defenders (10): Mikey Ambrose, George Bello, George Campbell, Alex De John, Alan Franco, Andrew Gutman, Brooks Lennon, Efrain Morales, Miles Robinson and Bryce Washington.

Midfielders (11): Osvaldo Alonso, Ezequiel Barco, Jürgen Damm, Emerson Hyndman, Franco Ibarra, Marcelino Moreno, Jake Mulraney, Matheus Rossetto, Amar Sejdic, Santiago Sosa and Tyler Wolff.

Forwards (5): Luiz Araújo, Machop Chol, Jackson Conway, Erik López and Josef Martínez.