In the second half of Sounders FC’s 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday, the offense was clicking like it had on only rare occasions before. A big part of that comes from the contributions from midfielder Marco Pappa, who grows increasingly comfortable in his first season in Seattle. Those contributions are starting to show up not only in the form of goals and assists for the Guatemalan midfielder, but also in victories for Sounders FC.
“Scoring goals is important, but what's more important is where we are as a team,” said Pappa, who netted his second goal of the season in the 86th minute against the Timbers to seal the win. “We are at the top of the table and we have to continue that way. It's good for me and my confidence to score a goal.”
A two-time All-Star with the Chicago Fire, Pappa came to Seattle with lofty credentials when he was acquired via allocation following a season with Heerenveen of Holland. With the Fire, he had 26 goals and 16 assists in 112 matches. Now with 16 appearances under his belt with Sounders FC, he is finding the form that helped him get named to the MLS All-Star team in 2010 and 2012.
In 2010, he had seven goals and five assists in 25 matches, then in 2012 he had six goals and five assists in 22 matches before departing for Heerenveen.
In his last five matches with Seattle, he has two goals and one assist, while also serving as a creative maestro out of the midfield.
“I am very happy when I see Marco play well, and I think he is continuing to grow with this team and as a player,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “You see him taking more responsibility on his shoulders in key moments. I see his game continuing to grow and develop.”
It’s not just his offensive prowess that has impressed Schmid. Pappa has also shown an affinity toward putting out the defensive effort to get things started on the offensive end.
“There's some good, good defensive moments he's given us on the flank, and that was never considered a trait of Marco’s,” Schmid said. “He's on the field because he helps our attack, not because we want him to be a great left side defender, but he's got to do some of that work and has really grown as a player. He has found a mix and he knows how to find those pockets of space, which are really important.”
Schmid’s words are inspiring to Pappa, who admits that it took him a while to get acquainted with the style of play in Seattle and that of his new teammates this year.
Now after five months together, he is rediscovering the swagger that made him such a sought commodity in his time with Chicago.
“I think we take a lot of confidence from the first half of the season and it shows. I feel more confidence. My fitness level is better and I can show more of my skills,” he said. “I’m happy with my performance and I’m feeling the confidence from the coaches and my teammates.”