Mauro Rosales was able to jog at Seattle Sounders practice on Thursday after receiving a platelet injection, but coach Sigi Schmid said his midfielder is still "very unlikely" to play in the first leg of the MLS Cup Western Conference semifinals against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Rosales had played just about 30 minutes since spraining his MCL toward the end of the game on Sept. 17 against DC United.
"We still have our fingers crossed and hope he can play on Wednesday," Schmid said during a conference call on Thursday. "We expected him to do a little amount of work, but he was able to run a bit and work with the ball a little bit."
The Sounders are undoubtedly hoping to have Rosales for as much time as possible, but are understandably worried about making the situation worse and potentially causing longterm damage. Rosales had five goals and 13 assists during his first year in MLS, numbers that have earned him consideration for league MVP. The Sounders are 13-4-8 (1.88 points per match) when Rosales plays at least 15 minutes and 5-3-1 (1.78) in all other matches.
If Rosales is unable to go, the most likely scenario would involve Alvaro Fernandez and Lamar Neagle playing outside mid. Both Fernandez and Neagle have primarily played as left-sided midfielder this year, but Fernandez has been the one to move to the right recently. The other possible lineup adjustment could involve either Brad Evans or Erik Friberg sliding over from their normal spots as central midfielders to the right. That would give the Sounders a considerably more defensive look, but that may be just what Schmid wants on the away leg.
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