Mike Fucito has taken the role of folk hero to the fans of the Sounders FC.
The volatile forward scored a dramatic goal last year against Kansas City, powering a shot past Jimmy Nielsen in stoppage time to rocket himself into Sounders FC lore.
Tuesday night against Comunicaciones of Guatemala, he further rooted that image with his two blistering short-handed goals in Seattle’s 4-1 win in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunities,” Fucito said. “Just doing what I can to help the team when given the opportunity.”
Thus far, he has been limited in his success in MLS play – just one goal and one assist in 577 career minutes – but has been a clear standout in CONCACAF Champions League.
In just his second game last year, he scored and was the pressure that caused an own-goal, propelling the Sounders to a 2-0 lead in Monterrey against a club that eventually would win the whole tournament. Seattle wound up losing that match 3-2, but Fucito came back with two more goals in a home bout with Marathon from Honduras in Seattle’s only victory of the Champions League last year.
In total, he has five goals and an assist in 390 minutes over six matches in the Champions League now.
Add to that the two goals in 79 minutes in Seattle’s two Lamar Hunt US Open Cup matches this year and Fucito is building a lot of momentum toward becoming a more regular fixture in Seattle’s lineup in coming weeks when the matches come hot and quick.
“As we’ve said, we think our team is deep and to play in a tournament like this you have to rely on depth. I told the guys before the game that every guy we’re putting out there has the ability to be a starter or is a starter on this team,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Mike started for us in a series of games where we did well as a team and he had some moments. Sometimes you get in and out of form a little bit but I thought his training had gotten a lot better of late and he deserved the opportunity to get out there and play. He rewarded me but mainly he rewarded himself. When you do that you get more opportunities.”
The burst isn’t lost on his teammates either.
They see Fucito’s efforts each day in training and the charge that he can put into a ball with his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame. The key, though, will be maintaining the run of good form.
“I think it's good for our forwards, especially for Fucito, to get a couple goals and get their confidence going,” said defender Patrick Ianni. “I know he knows what he can do. We all know what he can do but when you get goals they just seem to keep coming. So hopefully they keep coming for him and for the team.”
The Sounders take to the road this weekend to face FC Dallas in an MLS match on Saturday, then to Monterrey on Tuesday, returning to the scene where Fucito nearly led Seattle to the first win by a US team over a Mexican team in Mexico last year.