The image of star midfielder Mauro Rosales being taken off the field on a stretcher was exactly what Sounders FC had hoped to avoid Saturday.
CARSON, Calif. — The image of star midfielder Mauro Rosales being taken off the field on a stretcher, his hands covering his forlorn face, was exactly what Sounders FC had hoped to avoid Saturday.
Having already clinched the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs, escaping injury was one of Seattle’s top priorities in its regular-season finale against Chivas USA. Those plans didn’t last five minutes into a 3-1 road win at The Home Depot Center as Rosales, a league MVP candidate with a team-high 13 assists, was forced to leave the game early with a right-knee injury.
The extent of the damage wasn’t immediately known, but coach Sigi Schmid said it didn’t appear as though the injury was as bad as when Rosales sprained the same knee in a Sept. 17 game against D.C. United and missed three weeks.
“I think it was a little more shock as anything else,” said the coach, who indicated no MRI was planned. “He got hit in the same spot (of the knee) and I think he was more scared than anything else.”
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Goalkeeper Kasey Keller was also hopeful it was just a scare and not something more serious.
“Hopefully Mauro’s not too injured,” he said. “That was the only downside to the game.”
The Sounders (18-7-9) were able to recover from the loss of their midfield maestro and took the lead for good in the 53rd minute on an own goal by Chivas USA defender Andrew Boyens.
Seattle midfielder Alvaro Fernandez added insurance in the 68th minute after finishing a pass from Brad Evans for Fernandez’s ninth goal of the season.
Forward Sammy Ochoa added a third goal in the 73rd minute with a header through the legs of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. Fredy Montero provided the cross and has gone eight straight games with either a goal or an assist, the longest streak in MLS this season.
Ochoa, a native of Riverside, Calif., estimated 50 friends and family members were in attendance to witness his second goal in as many games.
Sounders FC’s defense couldn’t hold the shutout, however, as Victor Estupinan scored the lone goal for Chivas USA (8-14-12) on an 83rd-minute header.
“Obviously we would’ve loved to have kept a clean sheet,” said defender James Riley, “but as Sigi said, all that’s behind us. … The biggest thing (going into the playoffs) is to be results oriented.”
Seattle can have some measure of confidence having completed its most successful regular season. This year saw team records for wins (18), points (63), goals (56), goal differential (19) and several other categories.
Sounders FC will face Real Salt Lake, the 2009 MLS Cup champion, in a home-and-home Western Conference semifinal. Seattle will be on the road for the first leg Oct. 29 and host the second leg at CenturyLink Field on either Nov. 2 or 3.
• Rosales was making his first start since suffering the knee injury Sept. 17. He came off the bench in last week’s 2-1 win against San Jose.
• Saturday marked Schmid’s 350th MLS game; he has a 157-110-83 record.
• Keller will finish his career having started 89 regular-season games in a row. He finished the year with an MLS-leading 18 wins.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
|Seattle||0 3 — 3|
|Chivas USA||0 1 — 1|
First half — None. Second half — 1, Seattle, Boyens (own goal), 53rd minute. 2, Seattle, Fernandez 9 (Evans), 68th. 3, Seattle, Ochoa 2 (Montero), 73rd. 4, Chivas USA, Estupinan 1 (Estupinan, Trujillo), 83rd. Goalies — Seattle, Kasey Keller; Chivas USA, Dan Kennedy. Shots — Seattle 9, Chivas USA 13. Shots on goal — Seattle 4, Chivas USA 2. Saves — Seattle 1, Chivas USA 2. Fouls — Seattle 18, Chivas USA 12. Corner kicks — Seattle 8, Chivas USA 3. Offsides — Seattle 3, Chivas USA 3. Yellow cards — Zemanski, Chivas USA, 6th; Levesque, Seattle, 40th; Evans, Seattle, 79th; Montero, Seattle, 80th. Referee — Ricardo Salazar. Assistant referees — Craig Lowry. Peter Manikowski. 4th official — Ramon Hernandez.
Seattle — Kasey Keller, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl, 81st), Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque, 10th), Fredy Montero, Michael Fucito (Sammy Ochoa, 64th).
Chivas USA — Dan Kennedy, Ante Jazic (Mariano Trujillo, 56th), Zarek Valentin, Heath Pearce (Andrew Boyens, 46th), David Lopes, Ben Zemanski, Blair Gavin, Nick LaBrocca, Marcos Mondaini, Alejandro Moreno, Juan Pablo Angel (Victor Estupinan, 75th).