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Originally published August 13, 2013 at 6:19 PM | Page modified August 13, 2013 at 10:20 PM

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Sounders shift roles on attack in search for right combination

Eddie Johnson to Mauro Rosales goal underlines changes for Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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One of Sounders FC’s goals over the weekend had all the ingredients of many seen before: Eddie Johnson. Mauro Rosales. A deft cross from the right side. A skillful finish in front of the net.

Except this time the roles were reversed.

Johnson, who has a team-best 19 MLS goals the past two seasons, was the provider on the right wing. Rosales, who is nearing Seattle’s all-time record in assists, was the scorer.

Shifting roles in the attacking third of the field could be a continuing issue for the Sounders for the next few weeks. It is another story line and consequence following the team’s headline-dominating acquisition of Clint Dempsey.

Johnson relayed a quote from coach Sigi Schmid on the issue:

“Sigi said, for us, it’s about putting as much firepower as we can on the field,” the forward said. “Sometimes guys are going to be called on to do roles they’re not used to doing, but we’re all good enough players to figure it out. I play out wide with the national team and I like playing out there, but for some reason Sigi likes me more central up top.”

Johnson spent a fair amount of Saturday’s 2-1 road win at Toronto FC as a right-sided midfielder, even outside of helping set up the game’s first goal. That, in turn, pushed Rosales inside more than Schmid would have preferred.

“It was OK, but the movement was actually too much,” the coach said. “We’ve still got to maintain our shape a little bit.

Putting together the pieces of the puzzle will be Schmid’s greatest challenge, particularly with midfielders Lamar Neagle and Brad Evans also playing well in the attack. There is also leading scorer Obafemi Martins to consider, though he suffered a sprained ankle Saturday, and it isn’t known when he’ll return.

But while the dynamic up front is another hurdle in Seattle’s lingering pursuit of consistency, surely it’s one — rich with talent — that any coach would welcome.

Don’t make the mistake of calling back-to-back starts for Marcus Hahnemann his biggest moment as a Sounder. The veteran goalkeeper’s history with the team, of course, predates MLS.

“My biggest Sounder moment was lifting up the trophy at Memorial Stadium,” said Hahnemann, who won A-League championships here in 1995 and 1996.

There is no question, however, the past two games have been the pinnacle of the 41-year-old’s return — a shutout victory Aug. 3 versus FC Dallas and then a win-preserving stop in Toronto that has been nominated for MLS Save of the Week.

Hahnemann could soon return to a backup position, though, as starter Michael Gspurning looks ready to come back from a forearm injury.

“I’m keeping a good keeper out of the goal, which is I think a good problem to have for us,” Hahnemann said. “A little bit of different timing would have been better, but that’s the way it goes. I’m happy to get another chance in goal and playing in front of these guys. I have a great team. It’s awesome.”

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

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