Mauro Rosales was in an innocent enough position.
40 yards from goal in the 89th minute of the match Saturday night with DC United, he collected the ball off a bounce, but twisted his knee when Mark Burch came in hard on him in an effort to dispossess Seattle’s influential midfielder.
The resulting sprained MCL in his right knee will certainly have him out of Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Herediano, but the extent of the injury won’t fully be known until after Rosales can undergo an MRI on Monday.
The circumstances surrounding the injury, though, had Rosales confused and Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid in a foul mood after the match.
“It was two minutes left, I was far away from the goal with no serious attack,” Rosales said. “I was just holding the ball and I got hurt in a stupid way.”
Added Schmid, “The league’s got to start protecting him. The last two games, teams have gone out there and kicked him and I don’t think the referees have done a good job protecting him. Today was a case in point. We are up on top of the game 3-0 and he’s got the ball at his feet and I think it’s a tackle that’s just meant to get a little kick in and who knows how long he’s out now.”
The top of the MLS board for fouls suffered is typically strewn with very good technical players and it’s been no different for the Sounders FC.
In 2009, Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero were the two most fouled players in Major League Soccer. Last year, both were still among the top in the league. In both years, Seattle was the most fouled team in the league.
This year, Rosales and Montero are among the top fouled players in the league, too.
However, Rosales has felt well-prepared to withstand the pounding of the physical MLS game, which is why you won’t see him complaining about the tactic, in general.
“I prepared for that. It’s physical and I prepared to do everything in the field,” Rosales said. “It didn’t matter if it was physical or technical. I prepared to be good in all aspects.”
This year, he has been fouled 57 times in 24 matches. In six matches, he’s been fouled four or more times. Those figures don’t include the countless number of times he’s been kicked, shoved, tripped and otherwise beaten by players who don’t have fouls called on them.
Although he’s not concerned with the style of play in the league or the way the game is officiated – you will never see him saying anything negative publicly about officiating – he is concerned about what the results of that physical play may have led to in his sprained knee.
“I was really frustrated about this because there was nothing to lose and nothing to win. The knee is always a tough thing,” he said. “The ankle is no problem, but the knee … I’m really worried about what’s going to happen.”
The Sounders have five MLS matches left on the slate, along with the US Open Cup final and three more matches in the CONCACAF Champions League before MLS Cup playoffs begin in late-October. Rosales had emerged as an MVP candidate with five goals and 12 assists for the Sounders FC and will surely be among the top vote-getters in the Newcomer of the Year race.