Mauro Rosales behind Sounders' scoring surge
Sounders playmaker Mauro Rosales is earning assists at a faster rate than any regular starter in MLS history.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — In the soccer world, the No. 10 jersey is often reserved for the playmaker, the creator, the maestro on offense.
Midfielder Mauro Rosales claims that uniform, and the role that comes with it, for Sounders FC.
So how has he done?
Well, after a three-assist performance in Saturday's 6-2 road win against Chivas USA, Rosales' career average of 0.69 assists per 90 minutes is the best in MLS history among players with more than two starts.
That's better than legends Carlos Valderrama (0.66), Marco Etcheverry (0.56) and Preki (0.51). David Beckham, the league's most recognizable star, comes in at 0.46.
"He's good at what he does, for sure," coach Sigi Schmid said of Rosales. "He's done a good job of making the good decision, finding the guy who's most open at the moment and feeding him."
Rosales, one of Seattle's three designated players, has been in exceptional form the past couple months with 11 assists in his past 11 games. The 31-year-old Argentine has an MLS-high 13 assists this season, matching his team record set in 2011 when he won MLS Newcomer of the Year.
And while the league record for assists in season — Valderrama's 26 in 2000 — seems safe, Rosales could make a run for second at 19, where there's a five-way tie, at his current pace. The Sounders fan favorite also has five game-winning assists this year, three away from tying an MLS record for a season.
But Rosales, like he does with the ball, passes off praise to teammates Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson, who have 11 goals apiece.
"I think they get all the credit," said Rosales. "Creating chances for them is easier than the job that they have to do. We just have to put the ball in the place that they are and they do the rest. ... They've done an excellent job. It's not an easy thing to score goals, and they are scoring goals like it's nothing."
In this case, the forwards — who have goals on 10 of Rosales' 13 assists — give it right back.
"I think his number on the jersey means a lot ... and he likes that role," Montero said. "We just try to score every single ball he's playing to us."
Staying healthy has been key for Rosales, who was a devastating loss before last year's playoffs when he sprained his knee; it was one of his three significant injuries during the 2011 season.
Rosales sustained a similar knee injury earlier this year, which forced him to miss four games, but he has played every league game since late April.
The difference this year might be a result of less rough contact. Rosales suffered a team-high 59 fouls in 2011, but he's third on the Sounders this season with 35, behind Montero's 51 and Johnson's 39.
"It's a physical league," Rosales said. "Keeping healthy is something that you (need), because if I keep healthy, I can do what I want to do."
And few, if any, in MLS history have done it better.
• Moises Orozco's tryout with the Sounders has ended, and waiver draft pickup Dawyne "Rick" Smith is no longer with the team.
• Montero is the first player to score a hat trick this season and not be named MLS Player of the Week. Columbus forward Federico Higuain earned the honor Monday after scoring three goals in two wins last week. There had been five hat tricks in the league before Montero's, including one by teammate David Estrada in Sounders FC's season opener.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
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|Mauro Rosales leads MLS with 13 assists this season and currently boasts the best career average in assists per 90 minutes (minimum 25 assists):|
|Player||Career assists||Assists per 90 min.|