There’s a certain expectation – and, some would say, burden – that comes with wearing the 10 shirt in soccer.
The greats of all time have worn it.
From Diego Maradona with the legendary Argentina teams, Pele with Brazil and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane to Lionel Messi. They all have donned the famous No. 10.
However, Mauro Rosales insists there is nothing to read into his selection of the number when he officially signed with the Sounders FC last week.
“The number seven is what I use a lot, but it’s with James Riley. If I had to take another number it would be 38 or something. This was available and they gave it to me. There’s nothing important about number ten,” he laughed. “I played the last ten years with seven, but when I got here it was already taken and I don’t have anything to say to Riley.”
All laughing aside, Rosales does bring a lot of the traits of the typical No. 10 – from his playmaking abilities to his leadership on and off the field.
The 30-year-old Argentine played both as a central midfielder and out on the right wing for the Sounders in the 22 minutes he played in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. And, according to head coach Sigi Schmid, brings a leadership quality that will help bridge the gap from the veteran leaders that played in Seattle in previous years.
“He’s a good person in our locker room,” Schmid said. “I think people forget that we lost a little bit in our locker room – sometimes people only look at the playing minutes but when you lose a Tyrone Marshall and a Peter Vagenas, those guys are important guys in the locker room in terms of talking to the younger guys and passing on tips. Rosales gives us a little bit of that again. He’s got a good personality to him. He can talk to all the guys on the team and he can share some of his experiences.”
In addition to his five years with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, Rosales played two seasons with Ajax in Holland and three more with River Plate in Argentina, both among the more storied clubs in their respective countries. He also helped Argentina to Olympic gold in 2004 and the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2001.
That experience in multiple leagues and competitions should help the Sounders in MLS play, as well as the Open Cup and Champions League.
“His experiences are something that you can’t just transfer onto the young players. They have to learn them,” Schmid said. “But him having that experience is going to help us in the Champions League … it’s going to help us in every game we play.”
Rosales comes to Seattle after a brief stint with Queretaro in Mexico. He signed his contract in September and joined the team in November, but found that they had already filled their allotment of five foreign players. With media from Argentina seeking to cover his debut with the new club, the club told them he wouldn’t be playing because he failed his physical.
“It was their excuse not to put me into the team,” said Rosales, noting that he did not fail a physical. “They needed to give a reason why I wasn’t in the team. They apologized to me, but the mistake was big and it was already done.”
Left searching for a team, Rosales joined the Sounders for training camp in Florida and quickly gelled with his new teammates, quickly transitioning from Spanish conversation to English banter and back again.
He was quickly sold on the Sounders and MLS and now hopes to help Seattle reach the next level.
“It was not a difficult decision. I was watching MLS soccer and it’s great. It’s growing up year-by-year. When I had a chance to come to a big team like the Seattle Sounders, I had no doubt,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to come here and I’m enjoying this moment.”
Rosales and the Sounders FC will host the Houston Dynamo Friday night at Qwest Field. Tickets are still available at SoundersFC.com and at 877-MLS-GOAL.