Cristian Roldan - child adidas advertisement - still frame

TUKWILA, Wash. – Long before he became a starting midfielder for the Seattle Sounders and emerged as one of the best young players in MLS, Cristian Roldan played a bit of a different type of role.

Roldan hails from Pico Rivera, California, about 10 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. As a 10-year-old playing in a youth tournament in nearby Norwalk, Roldan would stumble upon a rare opportunity.

At the tournament, producers representing adidas put the word out that the hunt was on for a child actor to play a part in a commercial they were filming. The requirements for the role? Be around 10-12 years old – and be really good at juggling a soccer ball.

Roldan claims he originally didn’t even want to go the audition. He’d just played soccer all day and wanted to hang out at home and play video games. But his dad, Cesar, had a different idea.

Cristian was a brilliant juggler – prodigious compared to most of his 10-year-old peers – and Cesar thought his son had a legitimate chance at getting the part.

Sounders' Cristian Roldan recalls his star turn in childhood adidas ad -

“He came into my room and he was like, ‘Let’s go, get your stuff, we’re leaving,’” Roldan told after a recent Sounders training session. “And I’m like, “No, there’s no chance I make it.’ I started crying, I didn’t want to go. He ended up dragging me out of the house.”

Cesar and Cristian headed out to the audition in LA, where they waited in line with a group of 110 other kids also hoping to land the part. As it turned out, Cesar’s parental intuition was correct.

“I juggled in front of the camera and at the end of the audition, I ended up going to the producers,” Roldan said. “I said, ‘Look, I wear adidas shoes and adidas shin guards. I think I deserve the part.’”

Roldan did in fact get the part, with the final product getting airplay during the 2006 World Cup. In the commercial, young Roldan roams the streets of Los Angeles collecting plastic bags, which he eventually ties together into a makeshift soccer ball.

He then starts juggling the ball as Adidas’ famous “Impossible is Nothing” slogan materializes on the screen.

Roldan said the shoot was a grueling process, with multiple takes required for each shot. All told, the whole thing took upwards of 12 hours.

Looking back at it now, though, it’s become an key part of the story arc of his professional career.

Roldan is in the midst of a career-best season for the Sounders that has seen him score six goals to along with three assists. He’s also recently found himself on the US national team for the first time, procuring his first senior cap at this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and getting named to the USMNT’s 26-man roster for its pair of upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into and that [the shoot] was going to be that long,” Roldan said. “I didn’t know we were going to be doing 20 takes for every little thing. So, I was little bit confused and overwhelmed at the time.

“But when it came out, it was pretty cool to see. I was just grateful to be part of it.”