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Originally published August 25, 2011 at 9:15 PM | Page modified August 26, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Midfielder Rosales has earned payday from Sounders

Mauro Rosales has more than done well with four goals and a team-high seven assists, but his impact has extended far beyond the production.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A leap of faith.

That's what Sounders FC needed from Mauro Rosales as the MLS team struggled to manage the salary cap before the 2011 season.

Seattle hoped to sign Rosales, a talented Argentine midfielder with top club and international experience, but at the time could only offer a league-minimum $42,000 salary.

General manager Adrian Hanauer remembers that preseason conversation.

"We said, 'We like you. We'd like you to be here. If you do well, we'll take care of you in the future,' " Hanauer recalled.

Rosales has more than done well with four goals and a team-high seven assists, but his impact has extended far beyond the production. The charismatic 30-year-old has been a perfect locker-room fit from Day 1 and provides an excellent example for teammates to follow on and off the field.

Now it's time to be taken care of, and Rosales, his agent, Dario Sala, and the Sounders are negotiating a contract extension to keep the MLS Newcomer of the Year candidate in Seattle.

"Once you know Mauro, it's not hard to see the kind of person he is — his good nature, his love of life, his love of football and wanting to be a team guy," Hanauer said. "I just want to make sure that we reward his faith in us, and that's what we're going to try to do."

Through an email, Sala said negotiations have been very amicable and that both sides are motivated to get a deal done.

"It's simply a matter of finding a fair number for both sides," he wrote.

Rosales' success has garnered contract offers from clubs in Mexico and Argentina, but he's eager to stay a Sounder.

"I really am enjoying being here with the guys, with the team, with the people and the city," said Rosales, who wasn't bothered by having to wait for a better contract.

Goalkeeper and captain Kasey Keller called Rosales "a huge addition" to the team. Coach Sigi Schmid said the dynamic midfielder has been "fantastic."

"He's taken the game by the scruff of the neck in some key moments, for sure," Schmid said. "He's just a player that you know when you need something, when the chips are down, he's someone you know you can count on."

Rosales was just grateful for the chance. Having played at some renowned clubs — Ajax in the Netherlands and River Plate in Argentina — Rosales' career hit a snag when a deal fell through with Mexican club Queretaro.

Sala, a former MLS player who knew Seattle's technical director, Chris Henderson, suggested he try out with the Sounders and it was instantly a perfect fit — at any price.

"In the first year I was thinking just to play, not about the money," Rosales said. "I knew that it was less money than anyone in the team, but when I arrived here I'm just in the mind to enjoy, to play ... and I'm really happy to be here."

NOTE

Steve Zakuani continues to recover well from a broken leg suffered in April, but while encouraged, Schmid said he doesn't think the midfielder will be able to play again this season.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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