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With A Couple Wins This Week, Sounders Can Greatly Lessen Impact Of Mauro Rosales' Injury

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Sure, Mauro Rosales injury is unfortunate. But with a couple wins this weeks, the Seattle Sounders can greatly diminish the impact of his temporary loss.
Sure, Mauro Rosales injury is unfortunate. But with a couple wins this weeks, the Seattle Sounders can greatly diminish the impact of his temporary loss.

There's no two ways about it: Mauro Rosales' injury sucks. Whether it's two or four weeks or somewhere in between, every game the Seattle Sounders have to play without their MVP candidate they are a worse team. It's no coincidence that the Sounders have gone 12-3-6 in games Rosales has started and just 2-3-3 in their other matches.

All of that said, this does not need to be a debilitating injury that derails the season, and how the Sounders perform this week is the key.

It all starts Tuesday night when the Sounders take on Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League. As you should know, the Sounders are off to a 3-0-0 start in group stage play and can essentially lock up a spot in the quarterfinals by winning. (Without getting too deep into it, just know that the worst the Sounders could do is find themselves in a three-way tie for the group lead.)

The reality is, Rosales was probably not going to be playing against Herediano anyway, as he has played in just one of the Sounders' previous CCL games and that was a must-win encounter with San Francisco. In his place, we could see any number of players. Lamar Neagle will almost definitely start on the left side, as Alvaro Fernandez is sitting out with yellow-card accumulation. My guess is that Roger Levesque gets the nod over Pat Noonan.

Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps is arguably just as important, and maybe even more so. It would have been fun to see what Rosales could do against the Whitecaps, and his first start against them really kickstarted the scoring run he's been on, but even a short-handed Sounders team should be OK.

If the Sounders win, they'll clinch the Cascadia Cup, which is definitely nice, but not one of the big trophies this team has its sights set upon. Three points does help with those other trophies, though. 

While a win would clinch a playoff spot for the Sounders, the more important part about those three points is they'll move that much closer to locking up one of the three automatic spots in the Western Conference. Despite what you may think, Sidereal's research on the subject suggests the Sounders' chances of winning the MLS Cup are about twice as good if they claim one of those spots than if they go the wild-card route. 

By beating the Whitecaps, the Sounders would be at least five points ahead of FC Dallas and possibly as much as eight points ahead of the No. 4 spot in the West. Each team would only have four games left to play. It's still a very long shot, but a win could also pull the Sounders to within four points of the Los Angeles Galaxy, who visit the Columbus Crew just a few days after playing in Costa Rica. 

The drop off in talent for the Sounders shouldn't be that great for the Whitecaps match either. Neagle will probably move over to the right, with Fernandez reclaiming his normal spot on the left. Brad Evans or Erik Friberg should be starting in the middle. It's not a first-choice midfield, exactly, but it's not that far off.

The Sounders will also catch a bit of a break against the Whitecaps as Alain Rochat, one of the team's best defenders, will be out with yellow-card accumulation. If the Sounders don't win this game, it can hardly be blamed solely on Rosales' absence.

All of this is basically a long way of saying that as long as the Sounders win both of their games this week, Rosales' injury shouldn't be the end of the world. With a little bit of luck, Rosales might be ready as soon as the Chicago Fire match and if he's not back by then, the Sounders can probably ease him back into the rotation by getting him time in some games that shouldn't matter all that much.