At the start of the season, Sounders FC had visions of a midfield patrolled by Osvaldo Alonso and Shalrie Joseph. However, the duo has’t been available for every match and in their place Servando Carrasco has shown to be a replacement capable of being much more than just an understudy.
The 24-year-old Seattle midfielder has spent his whole career learning the intricacies of his position playing behind Alonso and this year added Joseph to his list of mentors. Now, implementing elements of both Best XI players into his own arsenal while keeping his own personality intact, Carrasco has become a reliable presence in the midfield for the Sounders over the last two months.
In that time, Carrasco has started all six Sounders FC matches in MLS play, putting him one short of his career-high of seven in 2011. Unlike his rookie campaign, though, he has shown a much greater adjustment to the speed of play in his third season. As evidence, he was cautioned five times in 689 minutes in his first year, but has yet to be shown a yellow card in 521 minutes this year.
“He’s matured and his timing going into tackles has been much, much better. His awareness of when to step up, and how to, has much improved,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.
The increased responsibility – Carrasco played just 235 minutes and made just two starts in 2012 – has given him momentum, playing in the rhythm of the starting role. While he prepared to start each match in prior years, the great health of Alonso made his appearances much more sporadic. Now he enters the week vying for his seventh consecutive start for Schmid’s Sounders.
“Whenever you get games continuously you grow and I guess that’s showed in my play,” he said. “Now is the time to keep building on that.”
On Saturday, Carrasco is likely to start for the Sounders again, as Alonso has been ruled out of the match with a thigh injury and Joseph is serving the second match of a two-game suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. While he may not enjoy the circumstances that got him into the lineup to begin with, Carrasco has become a staple in the lineup during a very successful run that has seen the Sounders go 4-1-1.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m having a lot of fun out there. It’s been a long two years and now that I’m on the pitch, I’m taking advantage of it,” he said. “At the same time, I’m not taking anything for granted. We’re getting decent results, but it’s a long, long season and we have a very deep squad, so I’m not going to let my foot off the gas pedal.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT in Saturday’s nationally televised Cascadia Cup match against the Whitecaps FC on NBC Sports.