For long stretches of Saturday night’s match against Sporting KC, the Seattle Sounders looked exhausted, to put it bluntly.
They were playing their 4th match in 11 days, including a midweek CONCACAF Champions League win that went to extratime. Complicating things further, the temperature at kickoff in Kansas City was 94 degrees.
Taken together, these factors make Mauro Rosales’ late-match playmaking that much more astonishing. The 30-year-old Argentine played every minute of Seattle’s three previous matches, including travel to Panama and Houston. Yet, somehow, he found the energy to trigger Seattle’s final two goals.
"We were without legs and without power, but in the mind we were very focused and in the last part of the game we won," Rosales said after the match.
One wonders where the Sounders would be without Rosales. In the wake of Steve Zakuani’s devastating injury, Rosales has filled the attacking void, contributing three goals and seven assists in 19 MLS contests, primarily from the right midfield position.
A former Argentine international, Rosales has absorbed the punishment of travel and the hot summer with no ill effects, even such younger teammates as Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez had to be taken off after 55 minutes.
Rosales’ crowning moment came in the dying minutes of Saturday’s match. After Sporting’s Omar Bravo was sent off in the 59th minute, Seattle launched a period of sustained pressure. But they could not break through, and coach Sigi Schmid felt his team’s rhythm would come to nothing. Then Rosales came up with a 90th-minute goal.
And he wasn’t done there.
“Actually at the time when it was 1-1, we would have been satisfied,” Schmid said. “But then Mauro made another play and we got ourselves another goal.”
That other goal, a 92nd-minute winner, came off the foot of Lamar Neagle, after Rosales orchestrated a sweeping 50-yard move from midfield into the Sporting area. The three points pushed Seattle within a point of 2nd-place FC Dallas, and provided the Sounders with a bit of revenge on Sporting.
“[Sporting] were the first team to beat us at CenturyLink and we ended up being the first team beating them here,” Schmid said. “So it evens out a little bit.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS