BY SPNW Staff 02:05PM 12/14/2011

Sounders sign assist leader Rosales to new deal

Re-signing the Argentine midfielder, voted MLS newcomer of the year, was a priority for the Sounders; team awards announced.

Mauro Rosales made an impression on the Sounders as as a "trialist" in a Florida camp. / Sounders FC photo

Voted the MLS Newcomer of the Year, Mauro Rosales will be around Seattle for while to pursue an upgrade of honors.

Sounders FC signed the Argentine midfielder to a two-year contract, announced at the club’s annual business meeting Tuesday with season-ticket holders . Rosales, 30, set the club record with 13 assists in 26 league matches, ranking third in MLS. He also scored five goals.

“Mauro was a huge impact on our team last year,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid in a club statement. “He played well and made others better with his service and use of the ball. We are pleased to have him back.”

Rosales received large credit for the Sounders’ second-half surge that led to the second-best regular-season record behind the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup for a third year. A knee injury kept Rosales out of the playoffs.

But the off-season roster has taken a hit with retirements and expansion draft losses. The return of Rosales, who played last year for $42,000 because of salary cap, was a high priority.

“I really am enjoying being here with the guys, with the team, with the people and the city,” Rosales said in club statement. “In the first year I was thinking just to play, to enjoy the game, and it was a season of great joy.

“I am very happy to be in Seattle, playing for our wonderful fans.”

“We were always very confident of reaching an agreement,” said general manager Adrian Hanauer. “There was a great deal of trust between ourselves and Mauro and (agent) Dario Sala. They put their faith in us and we wanted to take care of Mauro. He has earned this contract through his outstanding play, his dedication to his craft and his commitment to this club, his fellow players and our coaches.

“It’s no wonder he has become such a fan favorite. His love for the game is evident; he plays with passion and joy, with a flair and an acute sense for doing what the game demands.”

The 5-8, 160-pound Rosales signed with Sounders FC March 18 after playing from 2007-2010 for Buenos Aires giant River Plate. He has played nearly 400 matches for River Plate, Ajax and Newell’s Old Boys, and has been capped 10 times by the Argentina National Team, winning the Olympic gold medal in 2004, the 2001 FIFA U20 World Cup and the 2004 Copa America runners-up.

Sounders FC lost just three times with Rosales in the starting lineup, going 13-3-6 in his 22 starts. Seattle went 10-1-2 when Rosales scored or assisted.

TEAM AWARDSOsvaldo Alonso was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and Jeff Parke was honored as Defender of the Year, both by a vote of their teammates. Fredy Montero received the Golden Boot after leading the club in scoring and former Sounder James Riley was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year.

It was Alonso’s second consecutive team MVP award. He had career highs in nearly every statistical category, including games played (33), goals (3), assists (3), shots (54), shots on goal (11), fouls committed (50) and fouls suffered (39). He appeared in 44 of 47 matches in all competitions this season, logging a team-high 3,820 minutes, and led all field players with 2,891 minutes in MLS play, going the full 90 in 32 of 33 appearances.

He anchored one of the league’s top defenses, allowing 37 goals for a goals against average of 1.09 (fourth in MLS).  In the Open Cup, he was named player of the round in the final against Chicago. He also scored a brace at Guatemala’s CSD Comunicaciones in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage to earn a draw, 2-2, and clinch advancement to the quarterfinals for the first time in club history.

Parke started a career-high 28 games this season, including 19 straight MLS games from May 21- Sept. 24 in which Seattle went 12-3-4. He played the full 90 minutes in 25 of his 28 starts. Parke was named MLS Player of the Week for his game-winning header in stoppage time against Sporting Kansas City May 21 and was named to the Team of the Week for weeks 1 and 10.

Montero made it three for three with the Sounders Golden Boot award, helping the Rave Green become the league’s most potent attack. Montero matched his career-high with 12 goals (tied-fifth in MLS) and added nine assists (tied-fifth). He shared the MLS lead with five game-winning goals. He had 18 goals and 11 assists in 41 games played across all competitions. Montero set a club record for MLS total points (33) in a single season.

Riley, who was lost in the expansion draft,  won the humanitarian award for the second year.  He worked with the Renton/Skyway Boys & Girls Club, Special Olympics, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, America SCORES Seattle and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.