Week after week, I go to the Brougham End, or tune in my radio or TV, to watch the Match. To watch the 11 men take the pitch, and see them give their all in an effort to give ‘what for’ to the opposition. And week after week, I watch the men of the Sounders FC take a beating. We all know the Sounders have taken their share of lumps, and our team has its own stories of woe and misfortune.
Steve Zakuani, brought low by a low blow. O’Brian White, incapacitated by a blood clot, and recurrant surgery. Freddy Montero, in a cast for months with a broken wrist. Terry Boss, concussed. Mike Seamon, latteral ankle tendon injury. And lately, Mauro Rosales with a possible knee injury (more information to be gleaned today after his MRI) and Mike Fucito.What’s that? You knew about Mauro, but Mike caught you off guard? “I didn’t know Mike Fucito was injured!”, you reply.
You aren’t alone. Unless you were watching the game and not the camera work, you might have missed it. Fucito seems to be off camera a lot lately. In the Open Cup matchup against FC Dallas, Mike came away with 9 stitches on his forehead, thanks to an errant elbow (no call made, thank you Officials) near the end of the match. Dropped to the ground during an attempt to pull the ball out of the corner, and then ignored as play continued – apparently the official figured Mike was faking it.
After all, let’s admit it: Soccer has a lot of ‘acting’ present. Diving for fouls and penalties seems to be part and parcel in the action each match. The pitch is full of actors and prima donnas. But there are also some hard working men out there. Men who only hit the grass when they’ve been slammed to it after a bout with the other team.
But the Dallas game wasn’t the first time, nor the last.
Fast forward to this last Saturday, on a day that would otherwise have been recorded as a fantastic victory for the Sounders. A Three-Zero shutout against DC United, (with an FC Dallas loss that same day) widening the gap between the Sounders and everyone else, and pushing the Sounders over the Fifty-point mark (a new Sounders record!). It should have been a day for celebration, but there were sour notes in the air. Mauro Rosales, smashed to the ground, agonizingly clutching his knee – a referee seemingly unconcerned. A Sounders FC star dimmed. But Mauro was not alone.
That’s right – you thought I’d forgotten why we’re here. Mike Fucito. The smallest man on the roster, and one of the hardest working. This game saw Fucito slammed out of bounds, crushed to the ground, and beaten until dizzy and limping. Four times a DC United player knocked Fucito to the ground, and on each occasion, also out of play, as Mike was swept through the boundary lines on the field to sit, broken and dazed, on the sidelines, trying to work his way back up to playing. Each time, the Harvard Tank continued on, like a boxer in the twelfth round, stumbling now and then, but putting all his heart into the game.
Were you watching? I was. And thankfully so was Sigi. Mike was taken off the field, replaced by Nate Jaqua in the sixty-seventh minute, after spending nearly four minutes near the boards in the south end on the ground, and finally limping around the southeast end of the field toward the Sounders bench, only to wait for the rule-appropriate moment, and go back in once more. He gives as well as he takes, but a person can only take so much.
The official word is that Alvaro Fernandez is the Man of the Match.
The announcers after the game love Rosales (and with reason) and vote him as the MotM.
But when all is said and done, my money is on Mike Fucito. Hard working, with the give-and-take that wouldn’t be out of place in a Scrum, the speed that is unrivaled on the Sounders team, and a constant drive to keep moving, even when you’re repeatedly bounced clean off the pitch. All of that says Man of the Match to me. I just hope he recovers fast – CONCACAF, the Open Cup, the MLS playoffs… There’s a lot on the line, and with some of our star players dropping like flies, we need the hard-working men all the more.
~Bleeding Rave Green