The Seattle Sounders enter the MLS playoffs as one of the league's hottest teams, but in order to find success in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals, they'll have to do so without their midfield maestro.
Mauro Rosales has been ruled out of the first leg of the Sounders' series against Real Salt Lake, according to the Seattle Times.
Rosales, who has been a key playmaker for the Sounders since joining the club this season, re-aggravated an MCL injury in the season finale against Chivas USA. He could potentially play a part in Wednesday's second-leg match should he respond to treatment over the next few days.
Here are a couple of other items involving MLS playoff teams:
RAPIDS' SMITH TEARS ACL
When Colorado Rapids midfielded Jamie Smith crumbled to the ground after a non-contact injury to his right leg late in Thursday night's win over the Columbus Crew, the worst fears were that he suffered a severe injury.
Those fears were realized when an MRI on Friday revealed a torn ACL in his knee, according to a team press release. The oft-injured Smith will have surgery on Tuesday, and will be out of action for approximately the next six months, meaning that he'll miss the rest of the postseason and the start of the 2012 season as well.
The injury opens up another hole for the Rapids in central midfield, where Pablo Mastroeni has missed time with a concussion. Barring Mastroeni getting cleared to play or bringing a starting winger in to play centrally, Ross LaBeaux and Joseph Nane are candidates to start against Sporting Kansas City.
ARENA OK WITH TRAVEL
The Los Angeles Galaxy have to make two cross-country trips as part of their conference semifinal matchup with the New York Red Bulls, and while they might not seem like ideal circumstances for a top overall seed, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena has no issue with the challenge ahead.
"We're aware of the fact that we were going to have to travel, it just happened to be New York," Arena said on a conference call with reporters on Friday. "That's OK, it's all part of the competition. I'd rather have to travel to New York than to Colorado (and deal with the altitude) in all honesty. I'm pleased where we are, and I look forward to the trip and the challenge."
Extended travel is nothing new for the Galaxy, who have had to make trips to Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica over the last few months for CONCACAF Champions League play.
How do you think Rosales' absence will impact the Seattle-RSL series? Think that Smith's injury is a big blow to Colorado's chances? What do you make of Arena's comments?
Share your thoughts below.