VANCOUVER, BC - Mauro Rosales has been in the trenches with Vancouver Whitecaps FC this season and it's taken its toll on the veteran midfielder.
A wild tackle by Chicago's Lovel Palmer in the second game of the season saw the Argentine miss five matches with a right ankle sprain. Making his return as a substitute against Real Salt Lake a few weeks later, Rorales had Whitecaps FC supporters' hearts in their mouths after being taken down by a challenge to the same ankle within five minutes of coming on.
He came away from that one unscathed, while RSL's Sebastian Saucedo was shown a straight red card, but Rosales wasn't so lucky three games later when he was forced to come off in the 12th minute against Philadelphia with a rib injury on May 9.
"I guess I have to get used to it," Rosales told MLSSoccer.com. "The last couple of games I was hit very hard. I have to be careful and not go in too strong, probably lighter into the plays, and try and avoid the injuries. It's not fun to be recovering all the time from something."
"I had a very serious injury on my ankle and now in my rib. I hope it's the last one and I can go free of pain through the games and try and help the team the best I can."
Being a flair player makes Rosales an obvious target for hard challenges. He doesn't feel that he's been targeted by opponents, per se, but he has noticed receiving an increased attention than in previous seasons.
"I'm getting more into the middle, where it's too crowded for players, and I'm easily the target for them to get me down," Rosales added. "I don't know if they're trying to do that. I hope it's not like that. But I'm an easy target in the middle in the position where I play. Someone is always coming in from behind, someone is always coming in to get the ball. I just have to be careful, try and be more smart, try to get away from them and try and avoid those tackles."
Rosales made his return to Vancouver's starting lineup in last week's 1-0 loss in Colorado. With Pedro Morales rested, Rosales did well in the No. 10 role and looked very comfortable spearheading Vancouver's offensive strategy.
With three games coming up in a week for the 'Caps, it certainly seems to be an option 'Caps coach Carl Robinson is considering again to try and kickstart his team in the final third.
"I thought Mauro was excellent on the weekend," Robinson told reporters on Thursday. "He's a different kind of No. 10 to Pedro. The way he plays and the way he brings other people into the game. He's really more of a shorter passer than a longer passer, but it's a great option for us."
It's a role that requires a different style of play from his usual position on the right wing, but it's also one that Rosales relishes.
"I like both," said Rosales. "There's options that the coach has. He knows that I can play there. I feel really confident just getting more balls, trying to let the team play and going forward. We created many chances in Colorado. It's an option that we have and as soon as the coaches want it, I will be ready for the team."
Whatever role Robinson sees for Rosales moving forward, the veteran midfielder is excited at the potential he sees from the current Whitecaps FC squad and is delighted to have a part to play in what he feels could be a special year for the club.
"They have the quality, they have the youth, they have the spirit," Rosales said of the current squad. "We have young players with experience. This team is going the right way. I've played with and against many teams but this one is one of the best."
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