Virtually ever MLS mock draft slotted Cristian Roldan as one of the top two picks. The University of Washington sophomore seemed like a perfect fit for New York City FC and Jason Kreis. It seemed like a no-brainer.
But once NYCFC instead selected Khiry Shleton, though, Roldan started to fall. Pick after pick went by and Roldan continued to sit. And wait. And hope. Yes, hope.
The Seattle Sounders have made no secret about their admiration for Roldan's game and were clearly active as soon as he started to fall in the draft. Finally, they found a trading partner in Real Salt Lake at No. 16. The Sounders sent their No. 27 overall pick and an undisclosed amount of Allocation Money to GM Garth Lagerwey's former team and promptly picked Roldan.
This was their reaction:
Roldan was equally excited. Here's what he said in an interview with Sounder at Heart:Roldan
On how he felt after getting picked: "My eyes got a little bit watery. I always hoped Seattle was going to be a place for me and I didn't think it was going to happen today. It was somewhat of a long shot and I'm glad I dropped as much as I did because I ended up at a great place where players can develop at the highest level."
On what he liked about the Sounders: "Seattle has always been an ideal place for me. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was hoping for the best and fearing the worst. But there is no worst in the MLS draft. Either way you're a professional soccer player. I think it starts as soon I get back to Seattle. I'll be very happy on the plane. I'm looking forward to working hard."
On whether or not he thought Seattle would move up to grab him: "As soon as I started dropping, I looked to the Sounders' table and saw some movement and I had no idea if they were going to get the deal done. They tried to make it happen. I could see how frustrated (when they couldn't get a deal done), and then excited they were with the opportunity to get me. I'm just as excited and I'm very, very lucky to have the confidence of the Sounders' organization. It makes it more comforting, knowing I have that confidence. I'll give them all I got."
On when he last spoke with Sounders: "We had an interview and I thought that interview went the best. I was comfortable with everyone in there. I gave them very honest answers and I showed them my personality."
On if he expected to go higher: "I tried not to look at (mock drafts) because anything can happen. I realized that, looking at the past drafts. I always knew Seattle wanted me and thought highly of me, but never thought it was actually happening."
On UW coach Jamie Clark comparing him to Osvaldo Alonso: "If I'm compared to Osvaldo Alonso, that's a good thing. He's a great player, but also a great person. That's what makes him, him. He's the man. To have the chance to play with him and practice with him on a daily basis, I couldn't ask for more. I idolize him, as well as Clint Dempsey. Those are two influential guys that I look up to."
On how his draft position affected his contract: "I try not to look at the money part because the opportunity is far more valuable than money. I can have the chance to develop as a player, as a 19-year-old growing up in an environment I'm not familiar with would be very hard. Since I'm familiar with Seattle and the locker room, I think that's far more valuable than money."