Sounders Notebook: Rosales lights up midfield in return

SEATTLE — Mauro Rosales wasted little time on Saturday reminding everyone why he was considered a contender for MVP.

The Seattle Sounders midfielder made his first appearance prior to spraining his MCL on Sept. 17 and contributed an assist on the equalizing goal in what would eventually become a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

HIGHLIGHTS: Sounders 2, Earthquakes 0
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Rosales’ perfectly weighted pass over the top of the Earthquakes defense fell right to the feet of a streaking Sammy Ochoa, who one-timed it past goalkeeper Jon Busch in the 82nd minute. It was Rosales’ 13th assist of the season — to go along with five goals — in just 25 appearances.

The Argentine had come close to picking up another assist several minutes earlier, when he found Fredy Montero open in the penalty area but the ensuing header went wide.

“He just provides something on the wing,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said following Saturday’s game.  “He draws fouls, he whips in balls. Something we didn’t have was service from the wing. So from the wing, that’s what you want, you want service into the box. From that aspect, the creativity also, it helps having him on the wing. There hasn’t been a left back that he hasn’t carved to pieces, so keep him there because he produces.”

The impact Rosales had on the game after coming on in the 64th minute was almost immediate. While Álvaro Fernández and Lamar Neagle have filled in admirably on the right wing, neither are capable of holding possession the way Rosales does. Combined with their tendency to get deep into the offensive third, that can be a recipe for disaster. Four of the five goals the Sounders have allowed in Rosales’ absence have been of the counter-strike variety.

Rosales admitted that he’s still not fully fit and acknowledged he was in some level of pain following the game.

“It’s felling better,” he said. “It’s not a sharp pain. We’re still in the time where we are recovering. The doctors told me that I’m not going to play without pain for a few weeks. I don’t want it to get worse, but I need to be the best I can for the playoffs.”

Have Seattle already found Keller replacement?

Rumors surfaced on Saturday that the Sounders have been in talks with Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.

On Sunday, Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer confirmed that the team has met with the 30-year-old and even had him in town for several days earlier in the season, but said “there is no contract in place at this time.”

Gspurning is currently playing for Greece’s Skodi Xanthi, and his contract is reportedly due to run out in December. He has picked up three caps with the Austrian national team, but has not made an appearance since 2009 during World Cup qualifying.