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Originally published September 24, 2013 at 8:10 PM | Page modified September 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM

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Rosales thrives as Sounders’ distributor

Rosales’ assist in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy was his 34th over three seasons with Seattle, matching Fredy Montero for the most of any player in the franchise’s five seasons.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TUKWILA — Odd as it may seem, being the playmaker on a team loaded with goal-scorers has some disadvantages.

Sounders FC’s Mauro Rosales can attest to that when it comes to setting up talented forwards like Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins.

“Sometimes if you give the ball to one, the other one can get upset,” he said with a laugh. “If you give the ball to the other, (another one can get upset). I get used to that. ... I don’t have preference to anybody. The preference to me is the Seattle Sounders and the success of the team.”

It is that type of selfless attitude that earned Rosales the captain’s armband when Kasey Keller retired after the 2011 season, and now the hardworking midfielder has earned another Sounders distinction.

Rosales’ assist in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy was his 34th over three seasons with Seattle, matching Fredy Montero for the most of any player in the franchise’s five seasons.

“I’m very proud to be part of the history and very proud to be part of this team,” said Rosales, who deferred much of the credit to his teammates. “It’s a huge part of me just in three years getting the record.”

Added coach Sigi Schmid: “It’s great for Mauro. ... For him to get those assists in basically 2½ years is a good run.”

At the rate Rosales collects assists, it seemed only a matter of time.

In his first season, the veteran set a club record for assists with 13. He matched it last year after getting a raise that made him a designated player.

Since signing in 2011, Rosales has set up goals at the third-highest rate in MLS history (with a minimum of 20 assists) with 0.54 every 90 minutes. Only league legends Carlos Valderrama (0.66) and Marco Etcheverry (0.56) were better.

The production has been critical to Seattle’s success as the team is 24-2-8 when Rosales records a goal or assist. Five of his eight assists this season have set up a game-winning goal, which is tied for best in the league.

Impressive stats, but what’s most important is yet to come.

Rosales’ distribution could be vital if the Sounders are to strike a balance on offense down the stretch, having not had much time to practice together because of injuries and national-team call-ups. He has more than earned the confidence of his teammates.

“Mauro’s a great player, and he’s done a great job here even before I was here,” Johnson told the team website. “I know he’s going to put the ball in a great area.”

And the Sounders have plenty of forwards eager to finish.

Notes

• Dempsey didn’t practice Tuesday because of a hamstring injury suffered last week. He isn’t expected to join practice until Friday, but Schmid hasn’t ruled the forward out of Sunday’s home game against New York.

• Johnson was held out of contact drills Tuesday and was set to have his sore shoulder X-rayed to make sure everything is OK, according to Schmid.

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

On Twitter @joshuamayers

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