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Originally published June 26, 2011 at 8:20 PM | Page modified June 27, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Steve Kelley

Levesque's contributions to Sounders more than Scuba Dive

Suddenly Levesque, an original MLS Sounder who has scored five league goals in his three seasons, was Rock Star Roger.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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All great ideas start simply.

Take the Scuba Dive for instance.

Roger Levesque and his teammate and housemate Mike Fucito were looking for a new and inventive way to celebrate a goal.

One night, with maybe a little too much time on their hands, they lined the cushions in back of their sofa, sat on the top of the sofa, held their noses and dropped backward safely onto the floor. They spent hours (OK, probably minutes) perfecting the move, hoping for a chance to do it in a Sounders game.

And a few days later, after his second goal of the game against New York, forward Levesque sat on one of the advertising boards and, like a new age Jacques Cousteau, effectively executed his first live Scuba Dive, tumbling over the board and onto the turf in front of the wildly cheering Emerald City Supporters.

Quickly the celebration swept the nation.

Or at least ESPN.

The Scuba Dive was replayed on the next morning's "SportsCenter." It was debated later in the day on "Around the Horn."

Suddenly Levesque, an original MLS Sounder who has scored five league goals in his three seasons, was Rock Star Roger.

"I didn't expect all that. It definitely was a spur of the moment type thing. It wasn't something where going into the game I said, 'If I score I'm going to do the Scuba Dive.' I just think people have run with it."

Now the important question. When does a player decide to break out a signature celebration? In baseball, for instance, a hitter who admires his home run may get knocked on his rear end in his next at-bat.

"For me, it was just a moment of being really excited," Levesque said. "I wasn't trying to slight the other team, by any means. I mean even though this is a job. Even though guys' jobs are on the line if you don't perform, at the end of the day, we're out there playing soccer. We're out there kicking a ball around and you're supposed to enjoy it. At least that's my perspective on it."

Levesque, 30, deserves this good fortune. He's one of those rare triple-threat players who is good in the locker room, good on the field and good in the community.

After scoring those two goals in Thursday's win, Levesque got his first start of the season Sunday. He assisted on Alvaro Fernandez's game-winning goal in the 40th minute of the 2-1 victory over New England, the Sounders' third win in a row.

"He deserved to start, based on his performance in the last game," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said, "and he probably deserves to start in the next game. He was dangerous. He made life difficult for their centerback."

Good teams have players like Roger Levesque. In these dog days of the season, he's like a one-man energy drink.

"The beauty of Roger is that he just keeps on going and going and going," general manager Adrian Hanauer said. "It's in training. It's in games. It's in life. He just lives life to the fullest and that's allowed him to evolve over the seven or eight years that we've had him, into becoming a better version of the earlier Roger Levesque.

"Good things happen to guys who work hard in this league and Roger's one of those. Roger's the first to say that maybe he's not the most technical guy, but he works hard, he's smart and he's got heart. Those three things combined, in our league, go a long way."

Levesque was playing for the USL Sounders, coaching and enjoying his life in Seattle in the middle years of the last decade. If this was as good as it got for him in the sport, then it was a pretty good life.

But he had played briefly for two seasons with San Jose and the hard-boiled competitor in him wanted one more full-time shot at the MLS.

"At various points throughout my career I didn't think this opportunity, being in the MLS, in the big dance so to speak, would come up," Levesque said.

With Fredy Montero, Brad Evans, Ozzie Alonso and Leo Gonzales out, Schmid needed Levesque on Sunday playing the way Levesque always plays.

He buzzes around the goal, putting pressure on the defenders and the keeper. Make one mistake, as Red Bulls goalie Greg Sutton discovered last week, and Levesque is ready to pounce.

Levesque is a professional pester. All day, he ran at New England keeper Matt Reis, who at one point yelled to him, "Not today, Roger."

"Getting thrown out there in the last game (Red Bulls), I think they were taking a little bit of a chance with me," Levesque said. "I don't know why they thought I would make a difference, but they did.

"You never know when your time's going to come, but the coaching staff notices stuff, maybe it's even in a reserve game, and they'll take chances every once in a while. Fortunately, it's worked out for me in the last week."

Levesque is a shot of personality on a team that could use some. But he's more than the Scuba Dive. He's a prime example of what this league and this team represents.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com.

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