Match Made In Heaven

The Sounders FC and Mauro Rosales have been a perfect fit as Seattle has rocketed to the top tier of Major League Soccer with their new playmaker.

Mauro Rosales was filled with elation on the CenturyLink Field pitch after the Sounders FC topped the New England Revolution 2-1 on Sunday, ending a week that saw the Sounders outscore their opponents 6-3 to pick up six crucial points in the MLS standings.

It wasn’t just his assist of the game-winning goal by Alvaro Fernandez or standout play that earned him high praise from head coach Sigi Schmid.

It had much more to do with playing for the Sounders FC in front of the over 82,000 people who streamed into Century Link Field for the two matches and supported the Sounders to the end.

“I think my decision to come to Seattle was the best one I had,” he said in an interview immediately following the match on the club’s television broadcast.  “It is very important to me to have this feeling.”

To say Rosales has provided a lift for the Sounders would be a gross understatement.  He got three assists in his first four starts and has added a goal and an assist in the last four matches, in addition to drawing the foul that set up two free kick goals in those matches.  However, his contribution runs much deeper than his one goal and four assists this season.

He joined the Sounders midway through training camp in Florida and, while he eased his way into the lineup on the field, it didn’t take him long to fit in with the team off of it.  With that, the Sounders knew from Day One that he would have a tremendous impact on the club.

As US Soccer legend Walter Bahr used to tell Schmid, “It doesn’t take you long to look at a horseshoe.”

“You could tell from his first training that he was a player who could play in this league,” Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson said.  “His résumé was excellent and he’d played with some big clubs.”

Before he was even signed, he was a fan favorite while the club kept his identity secret during the Florida leg of training camp.  Once the team returned from Florida and Rosales was signed, he quickly became a fan favorite because of his tremendous endeavor on the field.

The fans adore that attribute to the 30-year-old Argentine.

They are not alone, though.

His teammates and coaches have also gained a lot of respect for their playmaker because of the energy that he brings to the team.

“The thing that I like a lot about Mauro is that he plays with a passion.  I think the fans can see that,” Schmid said.  “He plays with a passion on his sleeve when he steps onto the field.”

His on-field efforts, combined with his good-natured personality have made him a locker room favorite too.  When he first joined the club, players and staff were overtaken with his sincerity and graciousness.

As he has become more acquainted with the club, that sentiment hasn’t waned in the least.

“What he does, his effort and the way he plays, is something that everybody on this team appreciates.  He’s a guy I think the players respect an awful lot because they know his background.  They know his pedigree.  But mainly, there is a lot of respect because I think they like him as a person,” Schmid said.  “He’s come in and he’s quick to laugh with you.”

Added Henderson, “He’s a leader in the locker room.  He’s done it and has the respect of the players, but he treats others with respect.”

As he has grown more and more comfortable with his teammates and the league, his impact has grown on the field.  He has elevated the level of the players around him in a way that nobody has managed before him.

His forte is setting up his teammates and the Sounders have found goal-scoring opportunities at an incredible rate with Rosales in the lineup.

It’s no coincidence that the Sounders are 6-1-4 in his 11 starts this season, including their current unbeaten streak of five matches and three-game win streak.

“He has something to prove in this league and he wants to be an important player in this league.  You can see that now as he gets into his form,” Henderson said.  “He’s one of those guys fans love to watch play because he puts his heart out there and it’s contagious with his teammates.”

Rosales and the Sounders will take their streak on the road for their next two matches, beginning July 4 at the Home Depot Center against the LA Galaxy, followed by the second leg of the Cascadia Derby with the Portland Timbers on July 10 at Jeld-Wen Field.  The Sounders are currently second in MLS at 8-4-7 (31 points), trailing the top-seeded Galaxy (9-2-8, 35 points).

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