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May 18, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Why isn’t Mike Fucito playing more minutes?

fucito mug.jpgThe question above is one I get a lot. It’s one I see a lot elsewhere. It’s also one I’ve been curious about.

Things have been busy around Sounders FC camp the past week or so, but I was finally able to talk to Mike Fucito and coach Sigi Schmid today about the wiry forward’s absence on the field. The 25-year-old, despite being protected in the expansion draft, has played just 29 minutes this season.

First, from the coach, who initially looked to Saturday’s game:

“Substitutions sometimes get determined by tactical changes, by trying to get somebody off the field. Sometimes what ends up happening is you have injuries that change things. Obviously Evans was someone we weren’t planning to sub, so if we don’t sub Evans in that game there’s a good chance Fucito comes on in the game against Portland.”

That was just one particular instance, but it’s pretty clear Fucito is on the radar. Before fully explaining how the injury changed the tactics (perhaps Brad Evans‘ two-way ability and the defensive cover he provides as a midfielder), Schmid continued…

“He got a great opportunity in the reserve game against Chivas to bang away a few goals. He got one and could’ve had more — he knows that.”

This is absolutely true. I was there and Fucito should’ve scored a handful of goals, missing a couple wide-open chances and slamming a header off the crossbar. He knew it then and he knows it now.

When I asked Fucito if he’s been told what he needs to do to see more action, he brought up the same game, unprompted.

“In the reserve game against Chivas there were four good chances that I should’ve scored on and I only scored one. If I maybe put away three of the four then that’ll help. Those are things I can do. I just have to score goals and the rest will take care of itself.”

I also asked Fucito if injuries — he pulled an adductor muscle in the preseason’s Cascadia Summit and also sprained his ankle last month — were slowing him down in any way. He said sometimes it takes him a long time to recover, but he sounded fine.

“I’m feeling pretty good. With me, just because of my body type, I just got to stay on top of my flexibility and stuff like that. I probably have a tendency to pull stuff more than a lot of guys because I’m so explosive. But I feel good. I’ve been doing all the right stuff to maintain and stay healthy.”

In both games Fucito has played this season he has subbed on for Fredy Montero. In previous interviews Schmid has all but said Fucito’s best position is withdrawn forward — not so much as a target forward or left-sided midfielder.

Fucito said he only played a little bit on the left in college and that it’s a lot different at this level. Sounders FC’s switching of its four-man midfield to a diamond also means he’s less likely to play out wide. Fucito would appear to be more of a dynamic, Steve Zakuani-type winger on the left in a flatter formation instead of one that tucks into the middle like Evans and Alvaro Fernandez do now.

Either way, maybe even as forward partner with Montero, Fucito is willing to play anywhere.

“I just got to keep working hard and hope my chance will come.”

And it sounds like it could be coming soon, according to this last quote from Schmid:

“He’s a guy that’s right there knocking on the door. He’s right on the verge and in this next period of time he’s going to get his minutes on the field.”

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