Sounders' Rosales targeting USOC final for return

Mauro Rosales and Lamar Neagle

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Injured midfielder Mauro Rosales has targeted next week's US Open Cup final vs. Chicago for his return to competitive action.

Sidelined since Sept. 17 with a sprained MCL in his right knee, Rosales joined the Sounders in Providence, R.I., as they prepare for Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

"He's with us here,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said of Rosales in a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “Today is the first day that [fitness coach] Dave Tenney has been able to work with him. Our real goal with him is to have him ready for the [USOC] game Tuesday.”

The Sounders head coach explained that sometimes it is easier to have players like Rosales join the rest of the team to recuperate from injuries.

“The intent behind it was to give the players who are coming back from injury better opportunity to incorporate themselves into training,” Schmid said. “Sometimes, a guy is at a stage where he can do part of training but maybe not all of it. If he’s back in Seattle and the whole team is gone, he really can’t take part in any part of training.”

Some other injured players met up with the team after Tuesday night’s dramatic 2-2 draw against Comunicaciones in Guatemala. The tie pushed Seattle into the knockout phases of the CONCACAF Champions League, which will begin in March 2012. Seattle return home to face Mexican side Monterrey in the last game of the group stage on Oct. 18.

The Sounders have chosen to prepare for this Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution in Rhode Island. The club flew from Guatemala to Providence, where they have been training at the facilities of Brown University.

With Real Salt Lake slipping up Wednesday night, Seattle have a very good chance to claim the second spot in the Western Conference, while the Supporters’ Shield is still not mathematically out of reach. The Sounders have already set a franchise record for points with 54 and still have four more matches left to play. 

Schmid wouldn’t unveil his lineup against New England, but conceded that a few changes would be made from the XI who started against Comunicaciones. A handful of starters from that match had played the full 90 minutes three days prior in a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“It’s not going to be the same team that played against Comunicaciones, but it’s not going to be a team of trying to rest everybody either,” said Schmid. “It’s going to be an individual decision as to each player where we feel they’re at.”

Seattle also have to look forward to the US Open Cup on Oct. 4 against the Fire, who recently re-asserted themselves in the playoff hunt with the help of Sebastián Grazzini and Dominc Oduro.

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.