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The setup man

Mauro Rosales picked up his 10th assist of the season Saturday in the team's 2-0 victory over Whitecaps FC.

The Sounders are scoring goals and climbing the Western Conference standings like a driven team in the last month and a half.

Since breaking out of a midseason slump, they have gone 4-1-3 to move to third place in the West, just two points behind Real Salt Lake and seven points behind the San Jose Earthquakes with games in hand on both teams.

In that time, Seattle has gotten six goals from Eddie Johnson and four goals from Fredy Montero.  But setting them up has been Mauro Rosales and the Argentine midfielder’s regained form has triggered Seattle’s return to the dangerous offense that closed out the 2011 season.

Rosales picked up his 10th assist of the season – good for a tie for third in Major League Soccer – on Saturday in a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.  With still 10 matches to play on the MLS calendar, he is just three assists away from matching his franchise-record assist tally from 2011.

“Obviously, he’s getting involved.  He’s getting assists, which is what he did for us last year and we need him to continue to do that,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.

Rosales had a similarly explosive stretch of matches in 2011, netting four goals and nine assists in 11 matches, seeing the Sounders to a 7-2-2 record.

Not uncharacteristically, Rosales shares all the credit with his teammates when asked about his run of success in the last eight matches.

“As a team, we are doing an excellent job and everybody is in form,” said Rosales.  “For a player like me, having players running for 90 minutes and being an option all the time, it’s easier.  We all know what we want and we want to finish the best we can.”

Rosales will look to continue that stretch on Saturday when the Sounders face Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.  While Johnson and Montero continue to play well together and the team incorporates midfielder Christian Tiffert, Rosales is still the key to unlocking Seattle’s offensive weapons.

“He’s important for our flow,” Schmid said.  “As we get to understand each other better and better, I think our cohesion will get stronger, as well.”