Ask Eddie Johnson about Mauro Rosales returning to the right wing and he makes little effort to conceal the smile on his face.
Johnson is a goalscorer and nobody has been able to set him up since his return to Major League Soccer better than Rosales. So it should come as no surprise that when Rosales played on the right with Johnson at forward on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, they connected for a goal in the 10th minute.
“We formed a chemistry in the last two years,” Johnson said. “When he gets the ball out wide, he’s looking to put it in the air where I can attack the ball. It was a well-weighted ball and all I had to do was redirect it.”
It was the seventh time that Rosales has assisted on a goal by Johnson – a large reason why Rosales finished the 2012 season with 13 assists and why Johnson had 14 goals, both of which are Sounders records.
The two have formed good chemistry in knowing where to place a ball and make runs, and the qualities of the two players makes for the perfect combination. Rosales is a winger that can place balls well in the run of play and on set plays while Johnson’s athleticism allows him to out-jump most defenders. He had nine headed goals in 2012, the most since MLS started keeping track of the statistic in 2003.
However, Saturday’s connection was the first of the 2013 campaign for the dangerous duo.
Injuries that have forced head coach Sigi Schmid into altered lineups have meant that Johnson and Rosales have only started in the forward/right wing combo in two matches this year.
“It’s good to see Mauro back out there playing the way we know he is capable of playing,” Johnson said.
Included in those injuries though has been Johnson, himself. After suffering a hamstring strain against Real Salt Lake that caused him to miss a month of game action, he’s back on the field, allowing he and Rosales to continue where they left off in 2012.
“It’s something we wanted, that combination,” said Rosales, who finished the 2-2 draw with a goal and an assist. “We’re getting confidence with each other. We expect more games like that.”