SEATTLE – It was a sight no one wanted to see: Mauro Rosales, clutching his right knee, limping off the field in stoppage time of Seattle’s 3-0 win over D.C. United.
The victim of an ugly challenge from Daniel Woolard, Rosales grimaced in pain and wore an ice pack on his right knee in the game’s final seconds. Following the victory, the Sounders confirmed that the Argentine playmaker sprained the MCL in his right knee.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long Rosales would miss, but head coach Sigi Schmid said he’d definitely be out for Seattle’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Herediano next Tuesday at home.
“It was almost done — it was 3-0,” Rosales said after the match, with the ice pack still attached to his knee. “I was really frustrated about this because there is nothing to lose, nothing to win, and I get hurt. The knee is always a bad thing. If it’s the ankle, no problem, but the knee — I’m really worried about what’s going to happen.”
Schmid went to bat for his player after the first question in the postmatch press conference. Asked for an adjective to describe Rosales’ performance, Schmid instead chose to vent his frustration.
“The adjective that I will use is that the league has to start protecting him,” Schmid said. “The past two games, teams have gone out there and kicked him, and I don’t think the referees have done a good job protecting him.”
Rosales triggered all three goals on the night, earning two assists in the process. However, Schmid didn’t need to be prompted to discuss the details of the continued heavy-handed treatment Rosales has received from opponents. The match statistics showed the Argentine magician suffered only three fouls, but the punishment received far exceeds what that statistic would indicate.
“Today was a case in point,” Schmid said. “We’re up on top of the game 3-0 and he’s got the ball at his feet. I think it’s a tackle that’s meant to get a little kick in, and who knows how long he’s out now.”
“We have a talented player in this league. A player who is a good player—a player who fans want to come out and watch play—and then we let people, thugs, hit him and we don’t protect him enough.”
Schmid went on to say that in the team’s previous game, which was against Real Salt Lake, Rosales was hit the first three times he touched the ball and nothing got fouled. Again on Saturday night, Schmid said Rosales was getting “dumped” and not getting calls from the referee.
Coming into the match, Rosales was tied for third in the league with 54 fouls suffered.
Schmid’s fury was balanced by the reactions of the Sounders players. Rosales opted not to comment on the referee, while two-goal scorer Álvaro Fernández said it was unfortunate but, “That’s football, and football is physical.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS