TUKWILA, Wash. – Mauro Rosales insists he’s ready to play.
That should be music to the Seattle Sounders’ ears as they head into their final five games of the season, starting against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (9 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“I was almost ready for the last game, but we took one more week to be 100 percent fit,” Rosales said following Wednesday’s practice session. “I’m fit. I’ve been training with the group the last three days. It was something I needed, to be with the ball and playing with them and getting my timing again.
“It’s good, I feel good.”
Rosales has missed the Sounders’ past three games with a right quadriceps injury that he suffered during training. He said the injury was not nearly as bad as the ones he’s previously suffered and that he’s been doing extra work in the gym to keep it from happening again.
“It was precautionary,” Rosales said of his time off. “It wasn’t that bad. I’m trying every time to do a little harder than normal and everyday it’s a step forward. It’s something for Saturday that will be fine.”
The Sounders are a significantly different team with Rosales than they are without him. This season, the Sounders have scored 38 goals during his 20 starts or an average of 1.9 goals per game. In the nine matches in which he’s either not played or come off the bench, the Sounders have scored just seven goals or an average of .78 goals per game.
Taking the Lead: Mauro Rosales
Against the San Jose Earthquakes last week, the Sounders seemed to run out of ideas despite dominating possession in the second half.
“You get used to playing with certain players and he’s obviously a player who has the ability to break down a team when they pack it in a little bit,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said of Rosales, whose 13 assists are the third-most in MLS.
“He’s a guy with that creative element. He’s the guy who seems to find people with his crosses. That helps us as well from the flanks. He’s a guy who the ball goes to when we’re playing and sees a lot of the ball, so when he’s not in there you’re looking for other people to connect your game.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.