Not long ago, Roger Levesque was seeing soccer from a whole new point of view.
He didn’t have some life-altering revelation – he was simply tried as a right back by the Sounders FC to see if he could provide depth in that position. When injuries stacked up and Sigi Schmid couldn’t find the productive combination with Fredy Montero, he turned to the multi-purpose veteran and brought him into the mix as an option at forward.
He replaced Mike Fucito at forward in the 58th minute of a match with the New York Red Bulls with the teams knotted at 2-2. He scored in the 67th minute and the 78th minute to cap off an exciting 4-2 win and hasn’t missed a league start since.
“Roger’s a utility man with a capital U,” said Schmid. “We’ve been able to use him at different parts of the field and we were struggling a bit up front and he came in and he started to play some good minutes up there.”
With that came the opportunity to play back in the position where he had so much success at the USL level for six seasons before coming to MLS with the Sounders FC in 2009.
That elasticity allowed Levesque the chance to play several different roles with the Sounders this year and gave him playing opportunities in the midfield in previous years.
“I think at that point I was playing more right back than anything else. That flexibility just adds a different dimension,” Levesque said. “It’s great for me because it’s more opportunities to be on the field and make an impact. That’s been my philosophy the whole time. I love to play and I love to compete and I’ll do anything I can to help the team.”
The performance against New York spurred Schmid to use Levesque and his unrelenting energy to pair at striker with the ever-dynamic Fredy Montero. Over the next six MLS matches, Levesque got a goal and an assist, starting in all six matches while the Sounders went 4-1-1.
He knows, however, that with White returning and so many other options that he is never guaranteed that starting role in MLS matches.
“It’s a long year. There are ebbs and flows of a season. There are times when things are going well and other times when it’s not going so well. Recently it’s been a pretty good run and the team’s done really well. That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “We’re winning games and that’s what separates this part of the season for me from games I’ve started in the past.”
Whether he is in the starting lineup or not, Schmid knows that he gets a unique mentality on the field. Nothing embodies that more than his second goal against New York, when he chased after a ball played back to goalkeeper Greg Sutton. When Sutton, faced with the pressure of the charging Sounders forward, misplayed the ball, Levesque was there to put it away for the goal.
“He’s the kind of guy that always has a good attitude. He’s always going to train hard. He’s always going to be ready when you call on him and he’s never going to short-change you in terms of effort,” Schmid said. “Sometimes the quality is better than at other times, but he gives everything he has for the team every minute he’s on the field. Those guys are invaluable and you need those guys on your roster. If we can go 17 or 18 players deep where we can make changes in the starting lineup and not impact the way we are playing or the quality of play, that’s a good thing for us.”
The Sounders have a chance to jump into second in MLS with a victory on Saturday against Chivas USA. Kickoff is at 1 pm at CenturyLink Field with the broadcast on KING 5 television and on the radio on 97.3 KIRO FM.