Rosales closer to return, but Schmid still plays it cautious

TUKWILA, Wash. — Mauro Rosales will be back in the Sounders lineup sometime before the start of the MLS Cup playoffs. How long before is still a bit of an open question.

After Thursday’s training session, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said that injured midfielders Rosales and Álvaro Fernández are both recovering nicely, but stopped short of saying they would be ready for Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Union (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

Rosales has been nursing a sprained MCL he suffered in the closing minutes of the Sounders’ 3-0 win over D.C. United on Sept. 17. Fernández, meanwhile, was forced to leave Tuesday’s US Open Cup final against the Chicago Fire after suffering an apparent concussion.

“Today was an easy day, so we’ll see,” Schmid said Thursday of the Uruguayan. “You want to make sure he’s 24 hours clear and he felt pretty good. Now it’s just a matter of him going through all the different procedures and tests they give him. With Mauro, he stepped up again today in terms of doing more difficult things. Really with this weekend, it’s a little bit about how he feels and it’s also a little bit about my decision as well.”

Schmid said the plan is to get Rosales minutes at some point during the Sounders’ final three games, but did not seem to be in any particular rush to do so.

“He’ll get minutes before the playoffs,” Schmid said of the Argentine playmaker. “We want him to have rhythm and play. Mauro’s pretty easy because he’s a pretty hard worker at training, so for him to maintain his fitness or his touch is a little bit easier than some guys. Some guys bring a different level into games. Mauro brings a pretty good level into training.”

Rosales and Fernández are both key to the Sounders’ playoff hopes. Rosales has five goals and 12 assists, while helping Seattle to a 12-3-6 record in games he’s started, while Fernández is second on the team in scoring with eight goals.