Without Keller, Seattle prefer leadership in numbers

Mauro Rosales and Brad Evans celebrate after Evans' goal vs. Santos

Photo Credit: 
Corky Trewin/Seattle Sounders FC

TUKWILA, Wash. – Prior to last Friday’s game against the Houston Dynamo, Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid handed over the responsibility of the captain’s armband to Brad Evans. During their conversation, Schmid made it clear the armband was Evans’ to wear himself or give to someone else.

Evans chose to hand it off to Fredy Montero, just as he had done the previous game after Mauro Rosales had come out. It was a move that illustrated that there are multiple players who are perfectly capable of handling the responsibility of leading the Sounders.

“It has to be like that,” said Rosales, who has worn the armband in the three games in which he’s started. “In the team, you need more than one guy that can speak on the field, speak in the locker room, speak to the team. We have a lot of guys that can be leaders on the field and off. We feel like we have to be like this. It’s not always important who is wearing the armband. The important thing is to represent the Sounders the best that we can.”

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While that exact scenario may not play out many more times this year – Seattle surely hope the influential Rosales won't miss much time – it does highlight the leadership values Seattle boast. When Kasey Keller was around for the franchise's first three seasons, he was the unquestioned leader. If he was on the field, he was wearing the armband.

“We all learned from him in certain aspects,” Evans said about his former goalkeeper and captain. “Every player could take away things from him. At that point, when he was here, no one was ready to take over the captain’s armband. He was that guy everyone was looking to.”

Now, it’s a bit different.

“I don’t think it matters who’s captain,” Evans continued, noting that the captaincy does not come with super powers. “The idea of a captain on this team is something that, for me, maybe Mauro has the experience factor.

"You have Ozzie [Alonso], who’s the most tenacious player who leads by example. You have a guy in the back in Pat [Ianni], who is the most vocal. You don’t have one guy who is the focal point.”

Evans said that's the way he would prefer it to be. Rosales may be the de facto captain for now, but different players have stepped up in different ways in every game. Evans notes that a similar system existed when he was with the Columbus Crew, a team that was coached by Schmid, perhaps not coincidentally, and won MLS Cup.

“I’ve always felt that’s the best way for a team to be,” Schmid said. “You want different people to step up.

“It’s not so important to me who goes up there on the flip of the coin. As long as you choose the right end, which I tell them what to choose anyway, the rest is easy. The other stuff, like dividing up the bonus money and stuff, that’s something that should be done as a group of four or five anyway. It’s an important role but the more leaders you have within your group, the stronger you are.”

Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.

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