Somewhat overlooked in the news that Jordan Morris had already signed an extension that could be as long as five years and pay him close to $5 million, is the news that Cristian Roldan is also close to signing a new contract.
It appears that nothing has been finalized as of yet, but the two parties are close enough that no one seems to be outwardly worried about Roldan heading into what would otherwise be a contract year. Most likely, the terms of the contract will be broadly similar to Morris’, three guaranteed years plus two more option years that will likely put him in Targeted Allocation Money range. Fellow 2015 draftee Tim Parker just signed a three-year contract extension that reportedly pays him about $800,000 per season.
The extension would formalize what had become apparent over the past couple years: that Roldan is one of the top two-way midfielders in MLS.
Since becoming a regular starter in 2016, Roldan has scored 14 goals and has 15 assists while playing all over the midfield and even filling it at right back. This year, Roldan got the bulk of his minutes as a right-sided midfielder and responded with four goals and a career-best nine assists. He would have played every minute of the regular season if not for being pulled with seven minutes remaining of a 4-1 blowout of the Houston Dynamo late in the season.
Among midfielders with at least 2.0 tackles and 1.0 interceptions per 90 minutes this year, none had more than Roldan’s four goals and only Julian Gressel (13) had more than his nine assists.
Roldan has also proven to be one of the best value picks in MLS Draft history, where he went No. 16 in 2015. In fact, only one player drafted since 2015 has scored more goals (forward Cyle Larin) and only one has more assists (Julian Gressel). Roldan also has more USMNT caps than every player drafted since 2015 combined.
Going into 2019, the plan seems to be that Roldan will move back to defensive midfielder, a position he played quite ably for much of the 2017 campaign. But he was also credited with helping provide some balance to the attacking band in 2018, where his defensive abilities gave even more freedom to the likes of Nicolas Lodeiro to roam.
Whatever the Sounders decide to do with Roldan, though, it appears that along with Morris, Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidiaz they are well on their way to establishing a longterm core.