Back in 2002, Sigi Schmid took a risk in bringing Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz to MLS with the LA Galaxy. The rewards of that early relationship go well beyond the 24 goals and MVP award Ruiz earned with Schmid’s MLS Cup-winning Galaxy in 2002.
And when Schmid and Sounders FC had the opportunity to add Ruiz’s countryman in midfielder Marco Pappa, he called on Ruiz as a reference point. The player that he has gotten has been a key contributor in the last two matches as Seattle has leapt to second in the Western Conference and has shown that he is willing to take on any role asked of him to help the team win. Although it hasn’t been easy for the 26-year-old, Pappa is now shining as a creative attacker off the bench.
“In the past seven months, I didn’t have that many games. So to come back and get the rhythm is a little bit difficult, but I’m a positive guy and I’m working hard every day, every week, to show to my coaches and teammates that I came here to do good things,” Pappa said. “I look forward to doing better things for the team.”
Pappa came to Seattle with great credentials. A two-time MLS All-Star, Pappa had 26 goals and 16 assists in 112 matches from 2008-2012 with the Chicago Fire, improving each year along the way. He is also a key piece for Guatemala’s National Team with six goals in 39 caps.
However, after a difficult run in Holland, Pappa was ready to come back to the U.S. and prove himself yet again in MLS with Sounders FC. However, after nearly a year since his last league match, it took him a few matches to find his rhythm as struggled at times in his first two matches as a starter. And while he still might not be the same as the player who had six goals and five assists in 22 matches with the Fire in 2012, he has made great contributions to Seattle’s efforts in the last two matches.
“I think he’s responded well. It took a little bit of time, but I think he’s responded well and his performances in the last two games I’ve been happy with,” said Schmid.
While that turnaround is a good indicator of Pappa’s character, he is quick to point out that his teammates also played a role in keeping him confident, even if it means coming off the bench.
“I have a lot of support from the guys. At the end of the day, we all want to achieve the same goals. No matter who is on the pitch, it’s about the team. I want to be in the first 11, but I want to also see the best team on the pitch,” Pappa said.
On a deep Sounders FC roster, Pappa has 165 minutes in four appearances and while he has yet to appear on the scoresheet, he is knocking on the door. As he continues his aggressive play on the offensive end, those goals and assists that attracted Seattle to him will start to come through.