There's only so much a preacher can do to build his flock. Good sermons are nice and all, but at some point people want to see you heal the sick, turn water into the wine and bring peace on earth. Mike Fucito's two-goal, one-assist performance against Comunicaciones in the Seattle Sounders' 4-1 win in Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League game probably falls a little short of those lofty standards, but there's no doubt that a few more people will likely be joining #churchoffucito.
Fucito's performance, quite frankly, is the kind people talk about for a long time. It might not be the greatest display by a player in the history of the Sounders, but I think we can safely say it won't be forgotten anytime soon. It wasn't just about building a case for more playing time, it was an absolute pronouncement that he needs to be on the field.
"I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunities and doing what I can to help the team," said Fucito, who now has five goals and an assist in his past five CCL matches dating back to last year.
Fucito made his first entry on the scoresheet in the 35th minute when his perfectly placed corner found Brad Evans at the far post. Evans' header took an odd deflection and actually ended up hitting off his shoulder before striking the underside of the crossbar and just barely crossing the line.
He was even better, though, once Lamar Neagle was sent off with a red card in the 55th minute. In the 61st minute, he was able to find some space on the left wing after a nice pass from Fredy Montero and beat the goalkeeper to the far post with a blast off his left foot. About six minutes later, he did it again, this time from the right wing off a feed from Alvaro Fernandez.
Both goals were expertly taken and an example of good things happening when Fucito finds himself in space.
"At times our movement was good and that's something we talked about at halftime, making sure that we were moving the ball," Fucito said. "We were getting some decent looks and we knew the more movement we had, the more opportunities we'd have."
Fucito was quick to acknowledge the passes of Montero and Fernandez in setting up his goals, and I should probably acknowledge that this was hardly a one-man show. Evans looked outstanding while wearing the captain's armband, providing some quality play in the center midfield. Servando Carrasco looked as composed as ever playing alongside Evans. Aside from the first 15 minutes, all four defenders were solid and did a good job of limiting the counter-attacks. It would have been nice if Montero had put away that opportunity in the 45th minute, but he deserves credit for controlling the ball the way did and creating such an outstanding chance to begin with.
Make no mistake, though, this game will be remembered as Fucito's coming out party.
I'm guessing this is sounding a bit hyperbolic, and it probably is. Fucito has yet to perform this same kind of magic against top-notch MLS opponents. But it's not like Los Cremas were a bunch of stiffs, either. Fucito's shots were goals against any competition in any league around the world. Maybe he wouldn't find that kind of space elsewhere, but that's getting nit-picky.
I'll admit that I have, at times, wondered if Fucito is the proper strike partner for Montero. It has always seemed as if Montero plays better when he has a target man off whom he can play. Fucito has shown, though, that there are other ways to create space. His speed is a weapon the Sounders have too often been without. Tonight showed that this pairing can not only work, but look spectacular in the process. The Sounders may have failed to find a striker on the international market, but they appear to have had one on their roster all along.