MLSSoccer.com announced on Monday that Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan had been ranked 24th in their annual “24 Under 24” list. Roldan said on Monday, “I’m honored. There’s a lot of good players, I’m happy to be part of that list.” He praised MLS and US Soccer’s “bright future” and hopes to move up the list in the next couple of years, as he’ll still be eligible.
Roldan has been quite the breakout star for the Sounders, after quietly growing and maturing in the latter part of last season. He’s become an invaluable member of the team, and his partnership with Osvaldo Alonso in central midfield has become vital to the Sounders’ late-season push to the playoffs. As for why his second professional season has so good, Roldan said that it’s all really come down to one thing: fun.
“Last year, obviously being a rookie you can’t show your personality and you can’t have as much confidence as you’re supposed to,” Roldan said. The ability to have fun on and off the field provides a level of comfort that has allowed Roldan to express himself and find confidence in his abilities. But having fun has gotten him to this level, and Roldan knows that he has much to improve on and learn. “Obviously I’m still young and I want to keep improving, but it’s a big step I think and hopefully it keeps progressing.”
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was obviously pleased that his player received such an honor, but said that “I’m biased, but he should be higher on the list.” Schmetzer said that players like Roldan are often overlooked on things like this, because they don’t always have the flashiest of stats. “Some of the things that that kid does that are a little more difficult to see, like covering for Ozzie, finding that right little spot in the middle of the field to continue our possession. The simplest things go unnoticed.”
Roldan, whose friendship with Jordan Morris has grown over the course of the season, praised his teammate’s place on the list as well. “I think Jordan has done a lot better than I did in my rookie season and a lot of other rookies’ as well. I’m happy for him and I think he’s gonna be a big part of the Sounders going forward.” But as Roldan often says about himself, he mentioned that even though Morris is always wanting to improve and score more goals and break more records, he’s happiest when the team is winning. “When we win, he’s the most excited on the field.”