During his first interview after becoming Sounders FC General Manager this past offseason, Garth Lagerwey was asked about his strategy for bringing new talent to Seattle. The question reminded him of a couple regrettable moves he made during his tenure with Real Salt Lake.
“I have already given you Andy Rose and Mario Martinez,” he joked. “Hopefully I don’t give as much talent to RSL as I did to Seattle over the years.”
In 2012, Lagerwey traded the discovery priority on Martinez to Sounders FC in exchange for a conditional draft choice. And although the Honduran midfielder is no longer with the club, Martinez surely made an impact during his brief stint in the Emerald City, including the series-clinching goal against RSL in the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals.
Rose, meanwhile, was immediately traded to the Sounders after being selected by Lagerwey and RSL in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. He belonged to the Claret and Cobalt for no more than 90 minutes. Now, the Englishman is closing out his fourth season with the Rave Green, having been a steady presence in the midfield during every one of those seasons.
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This week, as his team prepares for a critical matchup with RSL on Sunday, Rose was asked to ponder where his career would be had he not been traded.
He smiled, took a deep breath and answered.
“To be honest, I was just excited to be drafted and given an opportunity,” Rose said. “I thought I had a good college career, but I was still an international player and there’s only a certain amount of spots. So draft day was certainly a little bit nerve-wracking. I was just hoping somebody would give me a chance to come in for the preseason and prove myself. When I found out it was Salt Lake, I was just excited to be part of an MLS team.
“I had trained with the Sounders for a week after my sophomore season, and I fell in love with the place. I really enjoyed the coaching staff and the atmosphere. So as soon as I got the phone call that I had been traded an hour and a half later, I was pretty excited about it.”
Rose wasn’t one of the 38 players selected in the two rounds of the SuperDraft, but the Sounders were among the teams that remained interested in acquiring the UCLA product.
The night before the Supplemental Draft, the Sounders struck a deal with RSL, agreeing that Lagerwey’s team would draft Rose with the sixth pick if he were available. They would then send Rose to Seattle in exchange for defender Leone Cruz, who had been selected by the Sounders in the 2011 SuperDraft. Lagerwey ultimately decided to pass on the opportunity to bring Rose to Salt Lake City.
Upon his arrival in Seattle this past January, Lagerwey and Rose had a quick sit-down to clear up any potential resentment regarding the trade.
“We were kind of joking that our first conversation was four years ago, him letting me go,” Rose said. “It’s something we joke about. He had mentioned that he maybe made a bad choice, which I appreciated. But it’s certainly worked out for both of us. I’ve really enjoyed working with him this season – he’s a very approachable guy.
“There’s no sort of animosity or anything towards Salt Lake. It’s tough, at 20 or 21 years old, to really tell how good a player is going to be.”
Rose hasn’t consistently been a starter in his four years with the Sounders, but the Englishman has undoubtedly earned the trust of Head Coach Sigi Schmid. Despite the vast amount of injuries he’s suffered and the heavy competition for playing time, Rose is averaging more than 20 appearances per year at varying spots in the midfield. He’s scored some important goals for the Sounders, most notably the game-winner against RSL late in the 2014 season.
The guy he was traded for, by comparison, has yet to make an MLS appearance.
“There’s ups and downs of course, like every other professional player,” Rose said. “It’s not a smooth ride by any means. We have a very experienced group of players, and the guys I’m competing with are all top-caliber players that have played in World Cups or at the highest leagues around the world. So it’s difficult, but I’m a player that no matter what is going to give 100 percent, and that’s something the coaches can certainly count on every week. After this season, when I look back on the four years, I think I’ll be very proud of it.”