Well-respected vets such as Gonzalez and fellow defender Scott want to do what is best for the club. They also want to see the field and think they still can make a difference.

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Leo Gonzalez pulled Dylan Remick aside, dispensing advice that would, in its own small way, help the Sounders win.

Seattle was preparing for a weekend match against New York, and Gonzalez knew Red Bulls winger Lloyd Sam well. As a seven-year MLS veteran, Gonzalez had faced off against Sam in a handful of games and wingers like him countless times.

“He told me what to look for, the small things that give me an advantage when it might otherwise be 50/50,” Remick said.

Gonzalez’s pointers worked. The Sounders triumphed 2-1 on a stoppage-time Chad Barrett winner, and Remick largely kept Sam in check.

The advice, viewed from a different angle, also hurt Gonzalez’s cause: It further entrenched a younger teammate in a starting position that used to be his.

Veterans cope with that paradox differently. Some accept it, and some buck it. Well-respected vets such as Gonzalez and fellow defender Zach Scott want to do what is best for the club. They also want to see the field and think they still can make a difference.

“I don’t think that I’m just a mentor,” Scott said. “And I know Leo doesn’t feel like just a mentor. We don’t feel like we’re here to be player coaches. We’re here, obviously, to help. But the main goal is to help on the field. Everything that we do off the field with helping guys, to prepare guys ahead of us, is all a bonus to what our job is.”

Paying it forward has been a part of Seattle coach Sigi Schmid’s coaching philosophy dating to his time at UCLA. Seniors mentored freshmen, who repeated the cycle a few years later. The soccer world continued to spin.

“I remember when I was coming up — which was many decades ago — the two or three guys that took me under their wing and really helped me,” Schmid said. “I think every player, when they look back, there’s probably two or three guys that took them under their wing. They remember that. You just want to pass it on and share.”

Lamar Neagle has looked out for fellow Puget Sound-area product Darwin Jones. Gonzalo Pineda has done the same with rookie Cristian Roldan, seeing some of his own skills in the younger midfielder. Gonzalez is a role model for just about everybody.

“Leo is just a good soccer guy,” Schmid said. “And he’s a good person. His ability to help Remick has been tremendous, and he’s been as much a coach for him as the coaches have been. … That’s just a good reflection of the character of our team, that we have all these guys that are willing to share their insights of the game.”

They’re also hyper-competitive professional athletes for whom being dropped in the depth chart is no trivial matter. Both Gonzalez and Scott played significant roles in Seattle’s Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign last year. Both 34-year-olds entered preseason camp with reasonable hopes that they again would win starting jobs.

Then Brad Evans was pushed back from the midfield as a potentially long-term partner for center back Chad Marshall and, you don’t have to stare too intently between the lines, as a long-term replacement for Scott. Remick started performing with the consistency that eluded him as a 23-year-old last season.

S2, Seattle’s new minor-league club, was launched with the two-pronged intention of developing young talent and providing more minutes for guys on the fringe of the big-league rotation. Guys such as Gonzalez and Scott — and Barrett, who went nearly a month without seeing the field before a recent string of injuries — have been caught in the middle.

The Sounders will begin play in the U.S. Open Cup in a few weeks, and depth will be at even more of a premium during July’s slew of international tournaments. But the promise of future minutes, Scott said, isn’t much consolation in the mean time.

“Right now, on a week in and week out basis, if you don’t find yourself in the lineup, you’re (upset), and you should be,” Scott said. “Not a player here wants to say that they’re a bench player.

“I still feel like a starter. I’m still going to go out there and play like a starter. I’m going to help whoever needs it, but I’m also very aware of my window coming to a close, and I want to end on a high note and end continually playing.”

Both Gonzalez and Scott have experienced plenty of previous highs in their careers.

Gonzalez has played in a World Cup, in 2006 with the Costa Rican national team. He’s played in 129 regular-season and 12 playoff MLS matches with Seattle. Scott made his 300th career Sounders appearance — yes, that is impressive as it sounds — toward the end of last season. He’s a one-man bridge between the USL and MLS eras in Seattle soccer history.

They aren’t ready to go quietly into the retirement night just yet.

“In all my professional career, I was normally playing many games,” Gonzalez said, with his normal sheepish smile and a what-can-you-do shrug. “I love playing. I love being on the pitch, being in the 11. But it’s part of soccer. It’s part of life, to be patient. But of course I want to push forward. I work hard, because I want to play.”