Marco Pappa settles for reserve role for Seattle Sounders after forgettable start

TUKWILA, Wash. — Marco Pappa’s return to Major League Soccer hasn’t been quite as smooth as he once hoped, but he’s willing to make the most of whatever opportunity he’s given.

The Seattle Sounders midfielder has not started since a regrettable performance against Toronto FC on March 15, in which a bad back-pass led to one goal and a missed tackle contributed to another.

But after not playing in two games, Pappa has made positive contributions in a reserve role in each of the past two weeks. Both times Pappa entered the match with the Sounders trailing and both times the Sounders have been able to score a pair of goals and earn a positive result.

Against FC Dallas last weekend, in particular, Pappa’s presence was especially apparent. It was Pappa’s entry pass to Obafemi Martins that started the sequence for Clint Dempsey’s game-winning goal.

“I think he’s responded well,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said when asked about Pappa’s performance since the TFC match. “It took a little bit of time but I think he’s responded well. His performances in the past two games, I’ve been happy with.”

Like any player, Pappa admitted that he’d rather be starting. But he seems to have been taking his bench role in stride.

“I’m a positive guy,” Pappa said. “I’m working hard every week to try to show my coaches and teammates that I’m here to do good things. I’ve started feeling pretty good like that. I’m looking forward to start doing some better things for the team.”

Even if the Sounders had envisioned Pappa as a starter when they used their Allocation Ranking position to pick him up in the offseason, Schmid appreciates having that luxury for the time being.

“It’s one of the things we wanted to work hard at,” Schmid said of the team’s depth. “We wanted to have better options coming off the bench than we did sometimes last year, and I think we have that. 

“We have players who certainly feel they are starters or right around there so when they’re on the bench, they are a little bit unhappy. That’s a little extra motivation for when they step on the field ... They are going to fight for their spot.”

And Pappa seems more than willing to do just that.