Barring some unexpected development, Servando Carrasco will receive his career-high 13th start of the season when the Seattle Sounders kick off against Chivas USA on Wednesday. While this may have been cause for some nervousness in years past, Carrasco has proven himself to be a very capable midfielder.
No, his statistics aren't jumping off the page. He's got just one goal and one assist and completes a solid but unspectacular 79.6 percent of his passes. But what he has done is enough to allow the Sounders to go 7-4-2 in matches he's played at least a half. In other words, he's given the Sounders some much needed depth.
"It's tough but it's what I have to do if I'm going to make an impact on this team," Carrasco said when I asked him about being more of a fill-in than a regular. "I don't have time to sulk or point the finger. all I can do is point the finger at myself and find ways that I can improve and take the criticism that they give me and apply it to my games. You're going to get an opportunity and once you're there you have to take advantage of it.
Although Carrasco accepts his role as a depth player, he bristles at the idea that he's primarily Osvaldo Alonso's backup.
"That's what you guys call it," Carrasco said. "Whenever I get brought up, I'm always compared to Ozzie. I feel like I'm the only player who's compared to someone on the team.
"I have to do my job, be myself and I'm a different player. I never came in here and said, 'Oh, I'm like Ozzie.' We have similar tendencies, but I'm my own player. I like to open up the game with longer passes and find a way to complement his tremendous ability. He's hands-down the best defensive midfielder in the league. How do i find ways to be on the field next to him?"
Carrasco does admit, though, that getting to this point was a bit of a challenge.
"I found a better balance with Ozzie," Carrasco said. "Typically in the past, we were doing the same job. This year, we've found a way to complement each other and get results."
One other thing that Carrasco has improved on is that he's dropped the dreaded "red card waiting to happen" label. Although he's never been shown a red card, he did manage to pick up five yellows in just 689 minutes during his rookie year and was once given a retroactive suspension. That number has been reduced to two in 1,139 minutes this year.
Carrasco might not yet be the guy the Sounders want to build their team around, but he's proven that he's important piece of the puzzle.