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Seattle's Rosales "iffy" to make return at Real Salt Lake

Mauro Rosales

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TUKWILA, Wash. — Mauro Rosales' status is in doubt for the Seattle Sounders as head coach Sigi Schmid said an MRI performed on the Argentine playmaker on Monday revealed a slight re-injury in Rosales' right knee.

“The MRI showed that he re-injured the MCL a little bit, so we want him to lay low for these next few days,” Schmid said after Tuesday’s training session. “Then we’ll take it day-by-day after that.”

That means Rosales is a question mark for both legs of the Western Conference Semifinals against Real Salt Lake, beginning Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer/TSN2).

WATCH: Zemanski fouls Rosales
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“We have to let it calm down and then we can see how it proceeds from there,” Schmid explained. “For this weekend, it’s probably iffy. For [the second leg on Nov. 2 in Seattle], we’ll see.”

The news is certainly unwelcome as Seattle prepare for the first leg against the Claret-and-Cobalt. Rosales led the Sounders with 13 assists in league play and got some buzz as a possible MVP candidate before initially injuring the knee on Sept. 17 against D.C. United.

The Argentine was seen on the sidelines sporting a wrap on his right knee during Tuesday’s session before heading into the locker room. Rosales re-injured the knee in a collision with Chivas USA’s Ben Zemanski in Seattle’s final regular-season game this past Saturday.

Lamar Neagle (five goals, two assists) is the most likely candidate to replace Rosales in the starting lineup. While he doesn’t offer the same technical skill as Rosales, he can trouble opponents with his speed on the wing.

“You can’t really replace Rosales, but I can just do the same thing I have been doing all year with my work ethic,” Neagle said Tuesday. “I think that’s the main thing I bring to the game.

“I’m not as technically sound as Rosales, obviously, but just working as hard as I can,” Neagle added. “I feel like I have some speed, so hopefully I’ll be able to get in behind them and serve some good balls in and cause some trouble.”

RSL will be well aware of Neagle’s danger. The 24-year-old midfielder scored the eventual game-winning goal against Real Salt Lake on May 28, breaking RSL’s 29-match unbeaten streak at Rio Tinto. The strike was the MLS Goal of the Week for Week 11.

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.