The Sounders pick up their 14th win as Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez lead on offense.
Protect Mauro Rosales.
Such was the firmly delivered message Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid had for MLS and referees after Saturday’s 3-0 win against D.C. United.
Rosales, Seattle’s maestro midfielder, had provided two assists, giving him a team record 12 for the season, and helped set up the other goal as Seattle (14-6-9) cruised in front of 36,242 rain-soaked fans at CenturyLink Field. The celebration turned sour in the 89th minute, however, when Rosales was unnecessarily barged into by D.C. defender Daniel Woolard.
The impact sprained the MCL in Rosales’ right knee.
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“The league’s got to start protecting him,” Schmid demanded. “The last two games, teams have gone out there and kicked him and I don’t think the referees have done a good job protecting him. Today was a case in point. … We have a talented player in this league, a player who’s a good player, who fans want to come and watch play, then we let thugs hit him and we don’t protect him enough.”
Rosales will have an MRI on Monday to determine whether the sprain is moderate or mild — though he has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League game against CS Herediano of Costa Rica.
The foul’s timing (the game was almost over), the positioning (at midfield) and context (Seattle was winning 3-0) all bothered Rosales.
“I was just holding the ball and I get hurt in a stupid way,” said the league MVP candidate.
Injury aside, there weren’t many complaints for the Sounders, whose 14 MLS wins this season tied a franchise best. Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez scored twice and forward Mike Fucito added the other as Seattle impressively rebounded from last week’s home loss to Real Salt Lake.
Fucito kicked off the scoring on a 35th-minute breakaway, a chance that was set up as Rosales shielded Woolard away from a pass by midfielder Brad Evans.
The lead was doubled in first-half stoppage time thanks to a superb passing combination from forward Fredy Montero to Rosales to Fernandez. The interplay set up an open shot on the right side of the penalty box that the Uruguayan midfielder buried.
Fernandez scored his second on the night — and team-leading eighth goal of the season — in the 60th minute by following up a save on a Montero header, a play that originated from a Rosales cross.
“It’s important that we have different options to score goals,” said Fernandez through a translator. “That’s something that’s been key in the last few games.”
And the status of Rosales’ knee will be key for the next few.
• Seattle has drawn 553,987 fans this season, breaking its own MLS single-season attendance record set last year at 542,600. The Sounders, which also set the record in 2009 at 464,145, still have two home games this season: Oct. 8 vs. Philadelphia and Oct. 15 vs. San Jose.
Said Schmid: “I’m just happy that we can go out there and put on a performance like we put on today and, I think, reward them for their support and give them something to leave and be happy about and be able to hoist a beer to.”
• Sounders FC held a minute of silence before the game in memory of Erik Martin, aka Electron Boy, who died Friday at age 14. Last year, the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfilled the Bellevue youngster’s dream of being a superhero for a day. Part of Martin’s choreographed adventures involved rescuing the Sounders, who were trapped in a locker room.
“I know that was something that was on all the players’ minds and that helped them as they moved forward into this game,” Schmid said.
• D.C. United (8-8-10) had never lost in Seattle, winning 3-2 last year and playing to a 3-3 tie in 2009. The visitors’ best scoring chance came in the 81st minute but forward Josh Wolff had his shot saved by Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who earned his ninth shutout.
• Stephen King, a former Seattle midfielder, entered the game in the 54th minute for the visitors.
• Sounders FC defender Tyson Wahl was issued a yellow card in the 41st minute and will be suspended for next week’s game in Vancouver.
• Montero held the previous record for assists in a season; he had 10 in 2010.
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|D.C. United||0 0 — 0|
|Seattle||2 1 — 3|
First half — 1, Seattle, Fucito 2 (Evans, Rosales), 35th minute. 2, Seattle, Fernandez 7 (Rosales, Montero), 45th+. Second half — 3, Seattle, Fernandez 8, 60th. Goalies — D.C. United, Joe Willis; Seattle, Kasey Keller. Shots — D.C. United 14, Seattle 14. Shots on goal — D.C. United 6, Seattle 7. Saves — D.C. United 4, Seattle 6. Corner kicks — D.C. United 6, Seattle 2. Fouls — D.C. United 16, Seattle 7. Offsides — D.C. United 3, Seattle 5. Yellow cards — Ngwenya, D.C. United, 16th; Wahl, Seattle, 41st; Da Luz, D.C. United, 63rd. Referee — Kevin Stott. Assistant referees — Eric Boria. Anthony Vasoli. 4th official — Yader Reyes. A — 36,242 (32,400).
D.C. United — Joe Willis, Daniel Woolard, Ethan White (Marc Burch, 78th), Clyde Simms, Brandon McDonald, Perry Kitchen, Andy Najar, Austin Da Luz, Dwayne De Rosario (Josh Wolff, 62nd), Joseph Ngwenya, Charlie Davies (Stephen King, 54th).
Seattle — Kasey Keller, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Tyson Wahl, Zach Scott, Brad Evans (Amadou Sanyang, 82nd), Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Michael Fucito (Nate Jaqua, 68th), Fredy Montero (Lamar Neagle, 78th).