Mauro Rosales
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Rosales brings jolt, leadership to young Sounders

The Sounders front office may have found a gem in Argentine Mauro Rosales. Seattle’s latest acquisition hasn’t skipped a beat since signing a contract just after the season started, earning selection in all three matches for which he’s been available.  

In this past Saturday's 2-2 at the San Jose Earthquakes, the primarily right-sided midfielder provided excellent set-up play and a mature presence for a team with many young starters.

“I’m very happy about the game,” Rosales told reporters after the match. “I feel so good on the field and I’m trying to keep my performance to the next game and I’m very happy to have my first game into the [starting] 11.”

Though he spent most of his time chasing the ball in his first appearance against the New York Red Bulls, the following game — a 1-1 draw at home against the Houston Dynamo — gave Rosales a chance to show what he can do with the ball at his feet.

According to teammate Steve Zakuani, the former Argentine national-teamer used his guile to swing in some dangerous crosses in from the right wing. Given the start against San Jose in Fredy Montero’s absence, he provided even more. Rosales made a nice move to gain space from the defense and crossed to Brad Evans for Seattle’s first goal.

“I thought he played well,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “For 45 minutes, I thought he played very well. He showed his experience. He did a good job setting up the first goal.

[inline_node:331762]“Second half, obviously his fitness came to bear, but he still made good decisions. I tried to milk as many minutes out of him as I could.”

In the end, Schmid pushed Rosales for 83 minutes of work, by far his biggest workload of the season. Schmid told <i>The Seattle Times</i> he stuck with the veteran because "not all our guys were real sharp with their thinking."

“I was very tired,” Rosales said. “I think the coach look, watched this and said, ‘OK, last five minutes, then come out,’ because I was really very tired. I ran the [83] minutes the best I could do. I’m happy for our game but not happy about the score.”

The veteran of the Argentine and Dutch leagues started training with the Sounders in late February, but it’s taken until now for his teammates start to understand how he plays in game situations.  
“[We're] kind of learning his tendencies and what he's going to do,” Evans said. “It's something that we still need to work, but I think he brings a different dynamic — especially as a player that other teams haven't seen before as well.”

Evans, who himself is just rounding into full fitness after coming back from injury, thought Rosales’ work rate in the first half in San Jose resulted in fatigue as the game went into the second half. He thinks on-field communication with Rosales will still take a while to become optimal, but Evans likes the energy the 30-year-old brings.

“In the first half I think he did extremely well, pressuring the ball,” Evans said. “He gave us a bit of energy up front and making good runs as well and holding the ball also. He provided the assist, swung in good corners.”

Schmid also complimented the veteran presence Rosales provided in the locker room. With Pete Vagenas and Tyrone Marshall no longer with the team, Schmid said that Rosales’ experience and easy-going nature put him in good stead with his teammates.

It helps, too, that the jovial player regularly gives interviews in English, which increases his accessibility to the fans and media.  

As the season progresses, it looks as though Rosales is in a good position to play a large role. Should Montero’s recovery from wrist surgery take longer than expected, it's likely the Argentine will be called on to trigger the attack against the Chicago Fire on April 9.