Cristian Roldan's continued emergence boosts Seattle Sounders' playoff push

SEATTLE—It was just a few weeks ago that the Seattle Sounders were languishing near the bottom of the MLS table, left for dead by many in the Western Conference playoff race.

These days, all that feels like another lifetime.

The Sounders kept their recent surge in form right on rolling in their Sunday evening Cascadia Cup matchup against the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field, riding two goals from Clint Dempsey and Cristian Roldan’s third tally of the season to a resounding 3-1 victory at CenturyLink Field that improbably has the Sounders right back in the postseason picture.

“It’s back to everybody having fun,” Dempsey said. “We’re circulating the ball well, we’re getting good looks and it’s not just one person or the other. I feel like everybody’s getting looks. When you’re doing that, creating good chances and opportunities and getting good results, that’s when you’re having the most fun.

“That’s the kind of run we’re on right now.”

Dempsey will garner most of the headlines from Sunday’s game – and rightfully so – as it was his second-half brace that staked the Sounders to a lead they would never relinquish.

But Roldan’s continued emergence has been a positive takeaway for Seattle as they look to complete their turnaround. The second-year midfielder is in the best form of his young professional career, and set up Dempsey's second goal before his own 83rd-minute strike.

Roldan also drew the penalty kick whistle to give Dempsey the game’s opening goal from the spot in the 61st minute, the second straight week he’s drawn a PK.

“What a fantastic performance by that kid,” said Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer. “He is a kid that will do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever to help the team win. I think his commitment to the team, his eagerness to learn and all those qualities he has, that’s what you guys see out there. He’s a tremendous talent and we’re only hoping for bigger and better things from him.”

The victory doesn’t mean the Sounders are out of the woods just yet. Seattle have a daunting week coming up, with a Wednesday road matchup against the Houston Dynamo (9pm ET; MLS LIVE) preceding a rematch with Portland on Sunday at Providence Park (5pm ET; ESPN | MLS LIVE in Canada).

To hear Dempsey tell it, though, his team’s resurgent showing should give the Sounders an added boost mentally as they prepare to take on that challenge.

“It’s always easier when you’re doing well to approach that next week because you’re not second-guessing yourself,” Dempsey said. “You’re thinking about the positives and trying to continue this wave that we’re on. It’s the best run we’ve been on all season, just enjoying playing and the style that we’re playing.

“Hopefully we can keep it going and make it to the playoffs.”