Cristian Roldan brings "all the little things" to Seattle Sounders
If any more evidence was required as to how instrumental Cristian Roldan is to Seattle Sounders FC's success, the 2023 season provided an apt illustration. Let's break it down:
2022 (Seattle): Roldan recorded four goals and five assists in 26 MLS regular-season appearances, in addition starting every match of Seattle’s title-winning 2022 Concacaf Champions League run, scoring a goal in Seattle’s 5-0 win over Motagua (February 24). Roldan became the third player in club history to pass 250 appearances across all competitions for Sounders FC, joining Osvaldo Alonso and Stefan Frei. He was named to the final roster for the United States Men’s National Team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup QatarTM.
2021 (Seattle): Roldan scored six goals and added six assists in 28 appearances, including a one-goal, two-assists performance against the Colorado Rapids (October 3). He appeared in three games during the Rave Green’s runner-up Leagues Cup run, scoring in a 3-2 loss to León in the Final (September 22). He was one of six Sounders FC players that started the 2021 MLS All-Star Game.
2020 (Seattle): Roldan started 21 of 22 appearances for the Rave Green’s pandemic-shortened season, scoring two goals and adding five assists during the regular season. Additionally, Roldan played all 90 minutes of all four of Seattle’s postseason matches, as the club advanced to MLS Cup for the second consecutive season. He also scored a goal Concacaf Champions League action against CD Olimpia (February 28). Roldan was the club’s Humanitarian of the Year for his work on voting awareness, census participation, environmental endeavors and social justice. He implemented a local BIPOC caterer to provide a team meal to Sounders FC on a weekly basis.
2019 (Seattle): Roldan started all 29 his appearances in 2019, matching his career high with six goals to go along with five assists. His lone brace of the season came in a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy (September 1), while also recording two assists in his next start, a 4-3 win vs. the New York Red Bulls (September 15). He also played every minute of the club’s MLS Cup title run, recording an assist in the First Round’s 4-3 win over FC Dallas (October 19). He also established himself as a staple of the U.S. Men’s National Team, starting 10 of his 14 appearances over the 2019 calendar year.
2018 (Seattle): Roldan became the first field player in club history to start all 34 MLS regular-season matches and record 3,000 minutes in a single season. He fell just seven minutes short of playing every minute of the 2018 campaign, with Head Coach Brian Schmetzer subbing him out of a match just once all year, in the 83rd minute of a 4-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on October 8. The versatile midfielder scored four goals and tallied a career-high nine assists in 2018, his fourth as a pro since being drafted out of the University of Washington. Roldan tallied multiple assists in a match just once, tallying two helpers in a 3-1 win vs. Minnesota (April 22). Five of his nine assists were game-winners – tied for third in MLS – making him the only player league-wide with at least four game-winning helpers to have more than half of his assist total result in match-deciding assists. After suffering an injury in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Portland, Roldan was forced to miss the remainder of the series, with the second leg marking the first postseason match he has missed while playing for Seattle.
2017 (Seattle): Roldan won Sounders FC MVP honors for the first time after a breakout 2017 in which he solidified his place as one of the top players at his position in MLS and earned his first senior U.S. Men's National Team action. The fourth-year pro started all 33 of his regular season appearances (tied for first on the team), while registering a career-high six goals to go along with three assists. Roldan’s first goal of the season came as the lone strike in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers (May 27). He then recorded his first career brace in a 3-0 win over San Jose (July 23), finding the net in the 54th and 56th minutes for the fastest time between two goals in club history. The versatile midfielder spent the majority of the season in a holding role and ranked first among all MLS players with 90 tackles won and 229 duels won. Among the team ranks, the University of Washington product led Sounders FC field players with 229 recoveries, ranked second with 1,565 successful passes and third with 45 interceptions. Roldan was a two-time selection for MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week (Weeks 1 and 20), and played all 450 minutes of action in the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs en route to the club's second consecutive appearance in MLS Cup.
2016 (Seattle): In his second year as a pro, Roldan emerged as a mainstay in Seattle’s Starting XI, as he partnered with Osvaldo Alonso in Brian Schmetzer’s 4-2-3-1 formation. Roldan made 28 starts in 33 MLS appearances, improving on his rookie statistics in every category. By season’s end, the University of Washington product tallied four goals and three assists. His first goal came in a 5-0 rout against FC Dallas (July 13), then followed up with another score two weeks later against the LA Galaxy. Roldan netted his third goal of the campaign in a 3-1 win over Portland (August 21), then added his fourth goal with a game-winning tally against Real Salt Lake on Decision Day (October 23). In the postseason, Roldan played all six matches, helping Seattle’s defense secure four clean sheets.
2015 (Seattle): The No. 16 overall pick from the 2015 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Washington, Roldan made 11 starts from 22 league appearances in the midfield – the third-most games played by a rookie in team history. He also appeared in each of the club’s three postseason matches. A versatile workhorse, Roldan was relied upon to play various roles in midfield, and even dropped to left-back for the extra time period in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against FC Dallas (November 8). Roldan ranked eighth on the club with 12 shot attempts and his nine corner kicks ranked fifth. Roldan recorded his first career MLS assist on a goal by Obafemi Martins in a 3-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (September 19).
Roldan received his first cap for the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He played all 90 minutes in a 3-2 group-stage win over Martinique. He also started and logged 68 minutes in a scoreless friendly vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 28, 2018. The midfielder was named to the USMNT January camp in both 2017 and 2018.
In two decorated seasons at the University of Washington, Roldan started 38 of his 41 appearances, scoring 10 goals and seven assists. As a sophomore in 2014, the midfielder appeared in 19 games, including 17 starts, scored three goals—two of which were game-winners—and added two assists. He netted the overtime winner at Portland (September 27), and headed in a late game-winner against San Diego State (October 26). An All-Pac-12 First Team selection, Roldan was also named to the NSCAA Third Team All-America team, the TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI, and the NSCAA All-Far West Region team. In 2013, Roldan was named the Soccer America National Freshman of the Year, and was ranked the No. 2 freshman in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com. He started all 22 games on the season, scoring seven goals and tallying five assists. In a 5-3 victory against San Diego State, Roldan scored two goals and added two assists (October 18). Roldan had game-winning headers against Oregon State (October 14) and San Diego State (October 25). In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Roldan had a game and an assist in Washington’s 4-2 win over Seattle University. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year was also named to the All-Pac-12 First Team. He earned National Player of the Week honors twice: October 22 and November 26.
Roldan was named the 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year after leading El Rancho High School to the Southern Section Division III title and a 29-2-1 record. In his senior campaign, Roldan scored 54 goals and amassed 31 assists. In 2012, he was named the Daily News Player of the Year, scoring 21 goals and adding 21 assists. He played club soccer for Union Independiente.
Selected in First Round (16th overall) in 2015 MLS SuperDraft.