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.
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.