SEATTLE — Servando Carrasco’s biggest obstacle to more playing time has usually been a certain Seattle Sounders defensive midfielder.
Although the Sounders have tried playing Carrasco alongside Osvaldo Alonso at various times, it has usually been an awkward fit. But after two straight starts together – and two Seattle wins – that may be changing.
“I think the one thing I had time to do was study his game and his tendencies when I wasn’t playing,” Carrasco told MLSsoccer.com. “I took that as an opportunity to figure out what would work when we play together. We can complement each other when we’re on the field. We know Ozzie is the best ball-winner in the league, so if I can add to that and provide distribution to the wide areas, it can be a good combination.”
While past experiments with them playing together had resulted in two players often trying to occupy the same space, the more recent result has been two players with a remarkable ability to win midfield battles. In the wins over Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes, the Sounders excelled at picking up second balls and disrupting any buildup through the middle of the park.
Carrasco’s midfield recovery late in Sporting KC match actually led to the game-winning goal.
"He's playing well,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I know everybody loves saying, 'Oh, coach just doesn't like me right now,' but if you're playing well, I think I'll try and get you on the field.
"He's playing well right now, and the way it's worked is he's sat maybe a little deeper at times than Ozzie has, and Ozzie has gone a little more forward," Schmid added. "Whereas before, Ozzie was the deeper one and Servando is not as comfortable in that role in front of Ozzie as much. They're more or less side-by-side at times, but there's probably more times where Ozzie is in front of Servando than it was when they played in the past."
With Shalrie Joseph returning to health, Carrasco knows his time in the starting lineup may be limited. But his newfound versatility should at least allow him to receive regular playing time, something that has proved elusive at times.
“It’s not about me thinking I deserve something, I want to earn it,” Carrasco said. “If they think I’ve earned the opportunity, I’ll step in and play, and if not, I’ll keep working. This is my third season and I’ve never let my foot off the gas pedal. If I play, awesome, I’m so excited. If not, I’m excited for the guy who is on the field. It’s all about being supportive. This is a phenomenal team.”