A day of frustration for Sounders FC might have been felt the most by midfielder Mauro Rosales.
The designated player is stuck in a drought, having not factored into a scoring play in 548 minutes spanning eight appearances, and was noticeably upset when chosen as Seattle’s first sub in Saturday’s 1-1 tie against the Colorado Rapids.
“When you are (trying to get) confidence, sometimes you need more minutes … and I’m not getting that,” said Rosales, who hasn’t played a full game since March.
Eight games is Rosales’ longest stretch without a goal or assist. He had never gone more than four without either.
The lack of production is particularly surprising for someone who set a team record with 13 assists in 2011, his first season with the Sounders, and matched that total in 2012. His 29 assists are second-most in franchise history, five behind Fredy Montero.
At the end of August last year, Rosales had a career average of 0.69 assists per 90 minutes. He was setting up goals at the fastest rate in MLS history among regular starters, ahead of league legends like Carlos Valderrama, Marco Etcheverry and Preki.
Rosales, who took over as team captain last year, has three assists in 17 games and a per-90-minutes average of 0.25 assists. His struggles carried over to the defensive end Saturday when the 32-year-old Argentine lost his mark on a corner kick, a lapse that led to Colorado’s goal.
Still, coach Sigi Schmid saw signs of improvement Saturday.
“I thought he played with a lot of energy, and some things came off of it,” Schmid said. “He had a couple of good crosses and a couple I know he’d like to hit better. … I thought today was a better game for him.”
Rosales had a particularly good pass in the 39th minute to set up a scoring chance for forward Obafemi Martins, but the open shot went wide. For a playmaker measured mainly on assists, it can be difficult sometimes for production to be measured based on someone else finishing an opportunity.
“I can’t control the other side,” Rosales said. “I just have to keep working and give more passes to the guys to score. It’s going to be much better for me, but it doesn’t mean the work we’re doing, even if it finishes in a bad way, isn’t good. … I have to keep working and keep doing what I have to do.”
The Sounders’ success has often been tied to Rosales - the team is 19-2-7 when he has a goal or assist. So maybe it is little surprise Seattle has also been slumping of late.
With nearly half the season yet to be played, there’s still optimism for both.
“It’s a long way; we have many games ahead of us,” Rosales said. “We still are in a good position. We have to keep going and try to get points as soon as we (can).”