Mauro Rosales in precarious position at Seattle Sounders FC

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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.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.