We here at Sounder at Heart are pretty familiar with a little something we will call the "hype train" for these purposes. It was here, of course, that the Church of Fucito was founded. We've dabbled in the Temple of Cato. Last year we saw the rise of a group I just decided to dub "Parsemain-iacs." In other words, our authors and commenters don't mind falling in love with a somewhat mysterious player and investing some emotions in their performances.
So, you'll pardon us for getting a little excited about the latest unknown player who we can't help but excited about: Pablo Rossi (working name for us fans: Truthers, because this kid is "the truth" and it makes us sound kinda crazy).
And right about now, you may be asking yourself, "who?"
As of a couple weeks ago, there were probably only a few people outside his family and coaches who could provide much of an answer. Rossi had played most of his career with Atletico Rafaela, a midtable team in Argentina. Most of that time was with the reserves and their youth sides, only even showing up on the bench for the senior team a couple times in cup play.
Shortly after his name got out among Sounders fans, a highlight video surfaced. It's grainy and obviously against substandard competition, but it's very intriguing, to say the least. The player being featured has obvious skills, a deft first touch and a deadly right foot on set pieces. It seemed hard to believe that this could be the same baby-faced player on trial with the Sounders. Over social media, though, Rossi confirmed the identity. Could a talented player like this have really slipped through the cracks of a great footballing nation like Argentina? Maybe!
Soon after, it was revealed that he scored in a closed-door scrimmage against the LA PSL All-Stars. Oh, you've never heard of the LA Premier Soccer League or even that they had "all-stars"? Well, that makes sense since they are apparently a team made up of adult-league players. So, sure, it's hardly top-flight competition, but the goal was apparently good enough that Sounders Sporting Director Chris Henderson made a point of commenting on it.
Despite the promise, the Sounders chose to leave the 22-year-old behind in Seattle when the rest of the team went to Tucson. If anything, training with Sounders 2 has only served to add intrigue.
All last week, S2 training was open to the public, and they played two scrimmages. The first was against the Sounders Academy. Rossi wowed the crowd with a beautifully taken free kick from about 25 yards out. There's no video of that goal, but it was only a matter of days before he rendered that detail moot.
There were about 150 spectators on hand at Starfire Sports Complex. No, not Starfire Stadium. That was being used by some youth teams. S2 was playing on one of the fields behind the stadium, with a couple bleachers but mostly standing room-only. Another youth game was going on the next field over, and still more teams were warming up near the endline.
Rossi didn't start against the University or Portland. He wasn't in the second group. He didn't even enter with the third group, when most of S2's expected starters came on. Rossi came on a little later, limiting him to about 20-25 minutes of game time.
In that limited time, Rossi did his best to attend to the soccer junkies in attendance. There was the clever touch along the sideline. There were a couple slick passes that nearly unlocked the defense. But the real magic happened when he stood over a free kick on the left wing about 30 yards from goal.
The video is attached above. LevyFilms was also there and caught the free kick from behind the goal. That kick isn't being blocked by any wall, it's not being saved by any goalkeeper. That thing hits the back of the net whether it was kicked on a side field or in a packed stadium.
Who knows if he can actually pull this off in a meaningful match, but just knowing he has this ability makes him intriguing.
Yet, I'm not entirely surprised that he's with S2 and not the senior team. Rossi only showed a passing interest in playing defense and seems best suited for a central role. He reminds me a lot of a young Fredy Montero or maybe a right-footed Marco Pappa, albeit with a less impressive resume.
One thing I can say is that watching him will absolutely be worth the price of admission at S2 games and, before long, I suspect Sounders fans are going to be clamoring to see him at CenturyLink Field. I can't say for certain that his skill set will translate to MLS, but let's not let that get in the way.
The kid has talent, that much is undeniable. That alone is reason to let your imagination run. Today, S2 is playing the University of Washington at Husky Stadium. You probably want to be there to see this for yourself.