July 3, 2011 in Sports

Rosales gives supreme effort for Seattle Sounders

Joshua Mayers Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

Since overcoming hamstring issues, Mauro Rosales has recorded four assists for the Seattle Sounders.
(Full-size photo)

TUKWILA – The word “best” comes up often around Mauro Rosales.

After helping lead Sounders FC to a 2-1 comeback win last Sunday against New England, the forward/midfielder said: “I think my decision to come to Seattle was the best one I had.”

Those feelings were reciprocated by the team that same day when coach Sigi Schmid praised Rosales as “probably our best player.”

A few minutes earlier, a rousing ovation from the CenturyLink Field crowd when Rosales was subbed out in the 88th minute showed the fans’ appreciation for his effort.

And why has the 30-year-old Argentine been so embraced in his first year with the Sounders? He possesses an uncanny combination of world-class skill, childlike enthusiasm and an undying work rate that has impressed coaches, teammates and supporters alike.

“The thing that I like a lot about Mauro is that he plays with a passion,” Schmid said. “I think the fans can see that.”

Teammates, too. Roger Levesque called Rosales’ work ethic “unbelievable” and makes him inimitably liked in the locker room.

“Every time he steps on the field, he’s a guy who plays hard whether it’s the first minute or the 90th minute,” Levesque said. “He’ll keep going no matter what the situation is, and he’s always got a smile on his face. Great guy. Just a great guy to be around.”

Exertion has also led to production. Rosales’ four assists are tied for the team lead heading into Monday’s road game in Los Angeles.

Sounders FC is 6-1-4 with the 5-foot-8 dynamo in the lineup, leading one article on the league website to suggest he has become an MVP candidate. Recently Rosales was also a finalist for MLS Player of the Month for June.

Not bad for a previously out-of-contract player who joined Sounders FC preseason camp in February for a tryout.

“It didn’t take us long in the training sessions to figure out that this guy was a good player,” Schmid said.

It did, however, take Rosales a while to get fully fit.

While he wanted to give every ounce of energy for his team, Rosales wasn’t in shape enough to do so at the beginning of the year – especially after missing most of preseason. Fitness coach Dave Tenney thinks overexertion might have led to the hamstring issues that plagued Rosales from late April to mid-May.

“Once he adapted to how we work and once we got to know him, he made rapid improvement,” Tenney said. “He’s got a great mentality and works very hard. He played in Europe and typically those guys do almost anything you ask of them. They want to do the right things and they know they have to do extra work.”

Tenney said Rosales also committed himself to the team’s recovery methods (massages, whirlpool treatment, proper nutrition).

Whether it’s preparing on the field or off, it seems, Rosales continually comes back to that B-word.

“I try to do my best,” he said. “Always.”

Notes

Forward/midfielder Pat Noonan signed a contract extension through the rest of the season. His previous contract expired this week. A nine-year MLS veteran, Noonan played his first league game of the season last Sunday. … Midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring strain) and forward Fredy Montero (quadriceps strain) are each listed as “probable” on the injury report and are expected to be available against the Galaxy. … Forward Mike Fucito was named U.S. Open Cup Player of the Round by TheCup.us for his two-goal effort last Tuesday in a 2-1 third-round win against the Kitsap Pumas.

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