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MLS invites several with Puget Sound ties to Combine

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Seattle University’s Alex Roldan and former Academy keeper Paul Christensen are among Combine invitees.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Of the 60 NCAA Division I seniors invited to the MLS Draft Combine, seven of them have Puget Sound ties. Alex Roldan is a Seattle University student-midfielder who played for TSS Rovers (PDL) and OSA FC (NPSL). Justin Fiddes is a left back for the University of Washington and the Southern California Surf (PDL) out of the San Diego area. Jeff Caldwell (keeper, Virginia) and Will Bagruo (forward, Mercer) both played for Darren Sawatzky’s Sounders U23s. Rafael Sanchez comes out of Selah, Washington and played for the Saint Mary’s Gaels (TSS Rovers PDL). Akron’s Niko De Vera is from Camas, and played for the Timbers Academy and U23s.

Paul Christensen is a Seattle Sounders Academy alum who played keeper for the University of Portland, and played for the Sounders U23s as well.

Christensen is now the fourth Sounders Academy alum to make the combine, and the second goalkeeper. Ryan Herman was drafted 17th by Dallas in 2016. For ‘16 he was their third keeper, making the bench eight times in all competitions. With Miami FC in ‘17 he was their second keeper, earning a spot on the gameday roster 33 times. Jordan Schweitzer pulled out of the 2016 draft, signed a Homegrown Player deal with Seattle, was cut, and then signed with S2 for one season. In 2017 he played for Orlando City B and earned his first Canadian National Team call-up, making the bench in a friendly. Jordan has 3,351 competitive minutes with 5 goals in his two-year career. Kyle Bjornethun was the final draftee in 2017, but didn’t make the Sounders roster. He played 2,037 minutes with T2 in 2017.

Alex Roldan has a rather famous brother and is frequently at Sounders practices. The younger Roldan has no formal connection to the Sounders within the unique rules of MLS. His college coach is Pete Fewing.

Caldwel, Bagruo and Christensen all played for former Sounders Academy director Sawatzky with the U23s, who practice once a week or so at Starfire in order for Seattle’s staff to have a bit easier access to them.

Seattle is also familiar with Fiddes due to his time at UW. Lagerwey and other technical staff regularly attend Huskies games under Coach Clark (no relation). Sanchez is from the dry side, and a bit less well known.

Playing for Akron, De Vera is likely well scouted, but like Christensen has ties to an MLS club.

MLS will announce Generation adidas, international invitees and possibly more over the next few weeks. The combine is Jan. 11-17 in Orlando. Philadelphia is hosting the 2018 MLS Draft on Jan. 19.