There’s something special about the way Mauro Rosales fits in with the Sounders FC.
It may be in his unbridled passion on the field, or in his incomparable ability to find common ground with a teammate and get that teammate to believe they can do anything.
“He’s a very good guy in the locker room,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s also very good in terms of his communication with the players and helping them understand what he’s looking for in the game and he doesn’t come across as a know-it-all. It’s more an old pro helping younger players. His personality and his ability to lead and help in that manner is very good.”
In his second season in Major League Soccer, Rosales has taken on more leadership responsibilities while building on his MVP-caliber season in 2011, when he was named MLS Newcomer of the Year after posting five goals and 13 assists to help the Sounders become the top-scoring team in the league.
And when Rosales is buzzing, as he was in a stretch that saw him nab four goals and eight assists over a nine-game stretch late in the season. It not only put Rosales into the MVP conversation late in the year, but also put Seattle into the Supporters’ Shield race as they picked up 19 points in that span.
“Mauro is an important player for us. He’s a quality player not just because of what he can do. He makes players around him better,” Schmid said. “He helped make Fredy Montero better and he helped make Ozzie better. On the same token, those guys helped him too.”
One thing that makes Rosales so valuable is his ability to spread the defense to create space for teammates while also having the flexibility to change the plot when the game calls for something different from him.
If that means simply taking over a game, like he did over a stretch of a few minutes in a 2-1 comeback win at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park over Sporting Kansas City, then take over the game Rosales will.
His aforementioned great run of form was only stopped by a torn MCL suffered against DC United in September. Now completely healthy, he is also building toward improving on his first season, both individually and for the team.
However, another piece to Rosales that separates him from his peers is his unparalleled mentality that the only thing that matters is the success of the team.
When asked about his personal goals for 2012, he said, “Our mentality right now is to try to win everything we are playing. We don’t want to lose anything. We want to be sure that everyone wants the same thing. You have to have that thought if you want to represent the Seattle Sounders.”
That spirit endeared him to Sounders fans and teammates in his first season and the reception from the crowd and the club encouraged him to come back for 2012 and beyond.
“The organization is the best. The fans are the best,” he said. “We showed last year on the field that we can be very successful. I like being here.”
Monday the Sounders will play their first preseason game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. They open the 2012 season with a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match against Santos Laguna on March 7.