Sounders DP Mauro Rosales ... played sparingly during the season's stretch drive and didn't start Thursday in a match Seattle had to win.

Mauro Rosales in precarious position at Seattle Sounders FC


SEATTLE — The writing on the wall isn’t getting any better for Mauro Rosales. At this point, it’s hard to see him back in a Seattle Sounders FC jersey next season.

After Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids, Rosales has gone 548 minutes (eight full appearances) without a goal or an assist. The 2013 season has starkly contrasted with his previous two in the Emerald City, when he was the offensive metronome for the club with eight goals and 26 assists over 53 games.

So far this year, he has two goals and three assists in 17 matches. For both good and bad players, statistics don’t tell the whole story — but in this case, that doesn’t necessarily help Rosales. Head coach Sigi Schmid, for one, seems to be less than impressed with the 32-year-old Argentine’s recent play.

“I thought he played with a lot of energy and some things came off of it,” he said after Saturday’s game. “I thought today was a better game for him.”

The key word in that statement: “better.” A poor run of results for the Sounders — 1-3-1 in the last five games — is bound to make their coach grumpy, but Rosales wasn’t feeling much better when he talked to reporters separately.

“I feel OK. [I’d] just like to get confidence again,” he said. “When you are [lacking] confidence, sometimes you need more minutes … and I’m not getting that. I have to work and try to do what I have to do in the minutes that I get.”

Injuries have kept Rosales from getting minutes in years past and earlier this season, and his age won’t help him in that regard. However, he said he finally feels healthy.

“I didn’t expect [to be substituted against Colorado],” Rosales said. “I have to respect the decision of the coach. I was feeling very good in the game, and my time was over early. It was just because I don’t want it; it doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the coach’s decision.”

These days, the coach’s patience seems to be fairly short for a player who still wears the captain’s armband when he starts. Brad Evans started the last two games on the right wing (a 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes and a 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps) before suffering a rib contusion against San Jose last week that forced a change.

At the start of those two matches, a healthy Rosales sat on the bench, although he did make appearances. Schmid said Evans could be available to start again on Sunday against Chivas USA, so Rosales could again find himself as surplus.

(More: Mauro Rosales also being linked with move out of Seattle [from Jan. 5])

But can Seattle afford to keep a Designated Player, who will make a guaranteed $225,000 in 2013, on the bench? That cap space could be used to sign another player, and the DP slot would likely entice a number of stars to don rave green and play in front of crowds of 38,000-plus people every week.

If he is willing to take a massive pay cut, that might add some fire back to Rosales’ game. In his first year with the Sounders, he was a steal, making just above the league minimum at $42,000 and setting the club assists record.

However, not many players willingly take reductions, even if they are happy at their clubs. If Seattle fails to make the playoffs this year, the best playmaker in the club’s short MLS history could be the first casualty.

MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy 3-1 Real Salt Lake (video)

Los Angeles Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme (37) congratulates forward Alan Gordon (9) for scoring against the Real Salt Lake during the first half of a knockout round MLS playoff soccer match in Carson, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are through to the conference semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs, where they’ll take on the Colorado Rapids beginning Sunday, for the seventh time in eight years with a 3-1 knockout-round triumph over Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Alan Gordon put the home side ahead inside the first quarter-hour before RSL drew level seven minutes later, but Emmanuel Boateng bagged a quickfire brace to complete a pair of brilliant individual exhibitions of dribbling inside the penalty area. With Steven Gerrard unavailable and Robbie Keane only fit to feature off the bench, Bruce Arena turned to Gordon, who gave way to Keane early in the second half after picking up an injury of his own, to play the fulcrum of the Galaxy attack, and it worked to near-perfection during the opening half-hour. Landon Donovan started the game and played 87 minutes, providing the kind of defensive work rate that’s been missing up and down the flanks of LA all season. Sebastian Lletget put in a near-flawless passing performance while playing deep in midfield. Don’t look now, but those are the Galaxy’s biggest question of 2016, all just about answered as the playoffs begin. I won’t say, “I told you so” if/when they win MLS Cup 2016, but…

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

14′ — Gordon finishes from close range for 1-0 — Landon Donovan -> Giovani dos Santos -> Alan Gordon. Just like Bruce Arena drew it up in preseason midseason last month this week this morning.

21′ — Plata converts from the spot after Morales’ dive — Javier Morales was angling for a penalty from the moment he entered the penalty area. All Emmanuel Boateng had to do was look at him, and Morales was going down.

26′ — Boateng weaves through to make it 2-1 — Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Boateng took advantage of some poor defending, and the Galaxy were back in the lead.

34′ — Boateng cuts inside, blows past his man, makes it 3-1 — There’s playing in top gear, and there’s having an extra gear that you rarely have to use because no one else on the field has it. Boateng falls into the latter category.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Emmanuel Boateng

Goalscorers: Gordon (14′), Plata (21′), Boateng (26′, 34′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Toronto FC 3-1 Philadelphia Union (video)

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): 10 years later, Toronto FC are MLS Cup Playoffs victors. For eight seasons, the playoffs eluded them altogether. Last year, they were one-and-done in embarrassing fashion at the hands of their local rivals. In 2016, it was  their year — a proclamation we’d heard plenty times before — and so far, they’ve lived up to the hype. Wednesday’s 3-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Union in the knockout round gets the monkey off the Reds’ back, but more importantly, afforded Sebastian Giovinco, who bagged a goal and an assist on the night (his second straight game with such a line), 90 more minutes of game time after missing more than a month through injuries as the regular season wound down. After 270 minutes of action, the Atomic Ant looks sharp as ever, and destined to terrorize New York City FC, whom TFC will face in the conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

15′ — Atlidore feeds Giovinco for 1-0 — The first playoff goal in TFC’s 10-year history. Poor goalkeeping, ball-watching defending, terrible touches, an overhead cross, and a strike off the crossbar. There’s a lot going on here. Watch it all right here.

49′ — Osorio slams home from the corner for 2-0 — The Union have been bad at defending set pieces all season, so is it at all surprising a set-piece gaffe effectively ended their season? No, it’s not.

73′ — Bedoya puts the loose ball home for 2-1 — Speaking of failing to effectively clear a corner kick, the Union were gifted a lifeline 15 minutes before full-time.

85′ — Altidore puts it out of reach, seals it for TFC — Ken Tribbet did not have the best night a center back has ever seen. His final blunder resulted in Jozy Altidore reclaiming TFC’s two-goal lead, and ending the Union’s 2016 season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (15′), Osorio (49′), Bedoya (73′), Altidore (85′)

Men In Blazers podcast: Mourinho’s Chelsea return; Bradley’s 1st point

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United, another stumble for Manchester City and Bob Bradley’s first Premier League point.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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VIDEO: Altidore, Giovinco combine for TFC’s first-ever playoff goal

Sebastian Giovinco
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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It’s been 10 years in the making, and Toronto FC finally have their first-ever goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

After failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons, 2015 saw the Reds venture into the postseason for the first time ever, only to be thumped in the knockout round, 3-0, by their 401 derby rival Montreal Impact, of all sides.

This is the year, though, or so we’ve said and been told all season long. While it remains to be seen how deep of a run TFC can muster in 2016, they’ll always have the Jozy Altidore‘s terrible first touch; Altidore’s wayward second and third touches; Altidore’s overhead cross; and Sebastian Giovinco’s strike, all of which you can watch in all its hilarity glory below.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Playoffs edition | MLS Cup predictions ]