TUKWILA, Wash. – Andy Rose won’t soon forget Jan. 12, 2012.
Following a highly decorated four-year career at UCLA, the then 21-year-old went undrafted in either of the MLS SuperDraft’s two rounds. He was finally selected with the sixth pick in the Supplemental Draft by Real Salt Lake and then immediately traded to the Seattle Sounders.
“That day, it was a bit of a rough day, but sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and see what comes,” Rose said of the SuperDraft.
Rose was the 44th player taken in the draft and the 18th midfielder, 10 of whom have yet to make a single MLS appearance.
Turns out, his ultimate destination may have been the best possible thing for his career.
Although Rose came into Sounders training camp just fighting for a roster spot, he has now appeared in each of the Sounders’ past six MLS matches and has made six starts across all competitions. The Sounders have gone 4-1-1 and outscored their opponents 14-3 in Rose’s six starts.
“I came in and didn’t really know what to think,” Rose said. “I knew that if I got a good chance somewhere, I have a lot of belief in my own ability and sometimes you almost have to be your own best friend at some point. You always have to make sure you keep your chin up and give your best. I knew I could play. I knew with better players I could be fine and fit in.”
On a team stacked with offensive forces, Rose has impressed coaches with his ability to be more of a facilitator, making the short linking passes that keep the ball moving, and generally playing like a player with far more experience. He’s also proven versatile enough to fill various roles in the central midfield, playing effectively alongside both Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans.
“He tries to keep things pretty simple, connect with the forwards, he plays a horizontal ball,” Evans said, largely describing his own style as well. “He just tries to connect his passes and that’s the most important thing. With the way that we play, with outside midfielders going forward so much, it’s good to have someone who just sits with Ozzie in case something breaks down.”
In his two US Open Cup appearances, Rose has taken his contributions to another level. In the third round against the Atlanta Silverbacks, Rose’s blast from 18 yards just before halftime gave the Sounders a 1-0 lead. Against Cal FC in the next round, his headed deflection off a Alex Caskey shot essentially put the game away.
“He's one of those guys where you throw him into the water and then he finds a way to swim,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said, admitting he was a little upset with himself for not taking Rose earlier in the draft.
“Then you throw into a little bit deeper end and he still finds a way to stay afloat and swim. Then you throw him in a little deeper and he still finds a way to stay afloat. He's done very, very well.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.