Seattle Sounders' Cristian Roldan continues strong start with USOC winner

TUKWILA, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders’ fourth-round US Open Cup matchup against the PDL’s Kitsap Pumas at Starfire Soccer Complex on Wednesday was not exactly the lopsided affair one might expect from a game pitting an MLS side against fourth-division opposition.

In the end, however, the Sounders got the result they needed, riding second-half tallies from Cristian Roldan and substitute Joevin Jones to a 2-0 victory.

Roldan finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the 71st minute off of an Aaron Kovar free kick, Roldan’s first professional goal across all competitions. By starting nine of Seattle's 13 MLS games, the second-year man has already come close to equaling last year's MLS totals in starts and minutes.

“[Roldan] is always good,” Seattle assistant coach Brian Schmetzer said after the game. “He’s like steady Eddie. You know what you're going to get out of that kid every single game. Just another typical performance.”

Schmetzer – filling in while head coach Sigi Schmid served his one-game Open Cup suspension from last year – cited the size, physicality and underdog status of Kitsap as the biggest challenges for his team on Wednesday.

“That was a big team,” Schmetzer said. “We were a little concerned about that. Their back four and [forward Hamza] Haddadi up front – it’s a big team. It’s always easy to be the underdog. You can play free, you don’t have to worry about feeling like you should win or shouldn’t win. I’ve been on that side of the bench, and their coach did a very good job and kept them organized.”

The victory was a welcome return to the tournament for Seattle, four-time champions who were eliminated in their first game last year, an infamous defeat to the Portland Timbers that saw three Sounders ejected, most notably Clint Dempsey for referee abuse.

“Obviously that was a crazy game against Portland last year,” Kovar said. “But we can’t do anything about that now. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we just had to get the result.”

Seattle now await their fifth-round opponent, which will be determined by Thursday's draw.