This week, the All-Stars of Major League Soccer are garnering a lot of attention around the league.
While Sounders FC head coach was offering praise for the club’s two All-Stars, Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson, as well as some others who he thought deserved recognition, he slipped an unexpected name into the conversation. However he wasn’t discussing Andy Rose as an All-Star, but rather as someone he thought should be involved in another debate.
“I think Rose deserves a little more recognition in terms of Rookie of the Year stuff than he’s getting right now,” Schmid said. “Everybody gets excited because the other rookie scores a goal or does this, but I think stepping in to the engine room of a team that’s expected to be a contender for the Western Conference title and holding your own is a pretty big accomplishment. It’s a lot harder, I think, breaking into the midfield than it is either in the back or ‘go up front and run around and see what happens’.”
Rose was taken with the sixth pick in the first round of the 2012 Supplemental Draft by Real Salt Lake, then traded to the Sounders FC for Leone Cruz, a second-round pick in the 2011 SuperDraft who did not catch on in Seattle.
Right away in training camp, he showed a knack for the net that quickly displayed one of the reasons the Sounders sought him out via trade. But when the season started, he found himself on the bench, learning from incumbent starters Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans as they took up the lion’s share of the minutes over the first seven matches of the season.
“I was studying the games – studying the way Ozzie plays and the way Brad plays and trying to pick up little things I can add to my game,” said Rose, who transitioned from the holding midfield role he played in college at UCLA to more of a box-to-box style.
After watching for seven matches, Rose got his first start for the club in a May 5 win over the Philadelphia Union, stepping in to the mix as the Sounders embarked on a difficult stretch in the schedule that saw them in the midst of five matches in 15 days. Since then, he has not missed a match for the Sounders in MLS, making eight starts and five appearances off the bench for the Sounders while logging 824 minutes.
Add to that two goals and one assist in 360 minutes in the US Open Cup, where the Sounders will play in their fourth consecutive final on August 8 against Sporting Kansas City, and it’s even more understandable why Schmid is singing his praises.
“To be honest, my role here is to help the team as much as possible,” Rose said. “I’m not too bothered about all the accolades. To be involved in a conversation like that would be great, personally, but that’s something that I’ll think about in late-December when the season’s over.”
It’s not the first time the Sounders have found success in later rounds.
They selected Mike Fucito with the first pick in the fourth round of the 2009 SuperDraft and he went on to score three goals in 2010 and 2011 for the Sounders. They also nabbed Bryan Meredith, who ranks in the top half among starting goalkeepers in the league this season, and Servando Carrasco in the second round of the 2011 SuperDraft, as well as regular contributor Alex Caskey in the third round that year.
Outside of the first round of the 2012 SuperDraft, only New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara and his 1.50 goals against average in 18 matches has seen more minutes than Rose this season. Others have also seen some levels of success, though in limited roles.
While Schmid praises the rookie’s early returns, Rose views himself in a different light. He certainly is understanding of the dues paid by rookies in any league, but he sees himself as a contributing member of the team that can be held accountable without any excuses.
“You’re always going to be a little bit naïve. This is my first year, but I don’t give the rookie tag too much thought,” he said. “I think you can cut yourself slack with that tag and I don’t want to do that. You’ve got to be a professional and your teammates have to know that you’re capable of stepping on the field and doing the job.”
The Sounders return to action on Saturday with their third and final regular season meeting of the year with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.