TUKWILA, Wash. – First off, let’s clear up a few things about what the newest member of Seattle Sounders FC is not.
Maurao Rosales, a 30-year-old midfielder from Argentina, does not fancy himself the team’s new designated playmaker. Despite wearing No. 10, the number usually associated with a team’s best offensive player, Rosales said he’s not trying to be Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, or any of the other past or present greats who have worn the number.
It was simply one of the few options available to him when he officially signed on Friday. You see, for most of his professional career, Rosales has worn No. 7, but that already belongs to defender James Riley. And with a lot of other numbers taken already, his options were pretty much limited to No. 10 or “38 or something like that.”
“There’s nothing important about No. 10,” he said. “I played the last 10 years with No. 7, but when I came here, it was already taken by Riley.”
In fact, as of now Rosales’ role on the team is a bit undetermined. Making his debut as a 68th-minute sub in Saturday’s loss to New York, Rosales played both as a right wing and central midfielder. A player known for his speed and attacking ability, Rosales isn’t exactly sure where he’ll play, nor is his coach.
“It was difficult for him because I put him wide right, then I put him in the middle,” coach Sigi Schmid said when assessing Rosales’ debut. “He’s either wide right or he’s going to play in the middle of midfield for us at times, so it all depends what we need.”
The other misconception Rosales wants to clear up concerns his health. Rosales, who spent the past three years playing for River Plate, one of the top teams in Argentina’s Primera Division, joined Mexican club Queretaro in September, but eventually was a victim of the numbers game and was told he would have to wait until summer to play.
Given the option of waiting that long or looking elsewhere, Rosales decided to explore his options and ended up in Seattle on a tryout.
Problem was, Queretaro cited a failed physical as the reason Rosales was not retained. Rosales said that isn’t true, and that the team later apologized, but by then he had been labeled as a player who for whatever reason was not fit enough to play.
Once things didn’t work out in Mexico, the decision to play in MLS, and with Seattle in particular, was an easy one.
“It was not a difficult decision, because I was watching MLS soccer, and it has been growing year after year,” Rosales said. “And when I had a chance to come to a big team like the Seattle Sounders, I had no doubt. This was a great opportunity to come here, and I’m enjoying this moment and I will try to do my best here.”