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Sounders internationals draw praise from coach, teammates

Between Morris’ brace and Roldan’s debut, there was plenty of praise to go around

Soccer: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup-USA at Martinique Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

TUKWILA, Wash. — In the midst of the many narratives surrounding Wednesday night’s Gold Cup win by the United States over Martinique, a handful of them are rather important to the Seattle Sounders. Both Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris started for the USA, and Jordy Delem started for Martinique. Roldan (finally) earned his first cap for his country, and put in a solid, if fairly unassuming, performance. Morris played the hero by scoring a brace that won the match for the Americans—and saved his defense’s blushes. Delem may have been on the other end of that result, but his performance at center back was still rather good.

Head coach Brian Schmetzer had kind words for all three in training on Thursday. “[Morris] had a good game, not just because he scored, I thought he was effective in possession and there were some good moments for him.” He noted that even though Morris played in a different role than he usually does for Seattle, as the second of two strikers, he doesn’t think that will change the Sounders’ current tactical setup. “With our group, it’s a little different. We don’t play with two strikers normally, but there are certain things I took and will put away in the back of my mind.”

Schmetzer also praised Roldan’s performance, especially mentioning how good it was for the US to lock him down with his start on Wednesday, “because I think he has a bright future.” Roldan’s performance might have been a little unassuming, but Schmetzer praised him for the little things he often does so well for the Sounders. “Cristian I thought had a good account of himself.”

Sounders Sporting Director/VP of Soccer Chris Henderson was effuse with admiration for Roldan as well, both as a Sounders fan and former US international. “I have so much pride for him. It was emotional to see him out there.” Henderson said that after fielding many calls from the national teams of El Salvador and Guatemala, seeing Roldan suit up for the Yanks was a big deal for him. “To see it actually happen and he had a very good game - it's the first of many for him. I'm just really proud of him. He's earned it.”

Jordy Delem played at center back against the USA, a position that most Sounders fans probably haven’t seen him play, unless they were avid viewers of S2 last season. Schmetzer said the Sounders are fully aware that Delem can play in such a role after doing well there for S2, but the club still sees his best position as holding midfielder...another role he hasn’t really been utilized in for the first team yet. Schmetzer likes having a player that can play many roles, as long as it doesn’t burn him out or keep him from his potential. “Versatility can prolong your career, but it can also shorten your career at times.”

Sounders forward Will Bruin also had plenty of nice things to say about his teammates’ international performances, though he admits that he viewed the match as more of a fan than anything else. Even if Martinique is considered a minnow in this tournament, Bruin said that teams with nothing to lose like that should always be taken seriously. “For them to be able to pull out the 3-2 game facing some difficult situations, I think that will help them grow as the tournament goes forward.”

Bruin was pleased to see Morris save the day for the US, and echoed a sentiment that many Sounders fans will also be hoping is true: “that’s going to keep him going and get him going great when he gets back.”

The Sounders forward also said he was “really happy” to see Roldan get his first cap, and dove deeper into the many reasons he thinks his teammate deserves a spot on the national team. “He’s one of those guys that’s not a flashy player, but he does everything good.” From diving in with a crunching tackle, to breaking up dangerous counterattacks and creating chances with his passing, Bruin said Roldan excels at so many things that often fly under the radar. “His work rate is very good, you know he’s always going to be wiling to throw in a tackle and play out when you want to play out.”

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