SEATTLE – Cristian Roldan is on fire.
Just four days after he capped off the largest comeback in MLS history with the game-winning goal in the Seattle Sounders’ 4-3 victory over D.C. United, Roldan was at it again in Seattle’s Western Conference fixture against the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
Roldan tallied a second-half brace in a three-minute span to kickstart a 3-0 rout of the visiting Earthquakes – bringing the 22-year-old’s goal total to three in two games since he returned from getting his first career US national team cap on July 12.
“You can tell when he got back from national team camp that it energized him a little bit,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the game. “He senses he can play at that level. We’ve always believed that and now he’s actually finding that out for himself.
“That little bit of self-reflection and confidence and knowing he can play at that level, I think certainly helped him here.”
It was a change in role from where he usually plays as a defensive midfielder. But Schmetzer said the standout performance in the unnatural position should come as no surprise given the versatility Roldan has demonstrated throughout the season.
“What I feel in Cristian is he can do multiple things. We’ve almost hindered his notoriety because I’ve used him at right back, I’ve used him in our 4-2-3-1 and he has to cover for Joevin [Jones] when he goes up the field. He does so many things just for the good of the team and he sacrifices parts of his game for the good of the team.”
For his part, Roldan said his recent stint with the USMNT might have played a role in how he adapted to his role as an attacker on Sunday. The two tallies moved his total on the season to five, which marks a new career high following his four-goal campaign in 2016.
“For me personally, the international level is a little bit faster,” Roldan said. “You have to think [faster], you have to take a better first touch.
“In the first part of the season I wasn’t able to play as a No. 10 because the play is so much faster. Attacking-wise, you’re always on the hot seat. Now that things have slowed down a little bit, I was able to step in there and play my part.”