Cristian Roldan has come to terms with Seattle Sounders FC on a contract that will secure him for the next five years, according to a reliable source with knowledge of the deal. The contract is valued at $4 million and is something rarely seen in MLS, as all five years are guaranteed, clearly cementing his status as a cornerstone of the franchise.
This level of commitment from the club to the 23-year-old player, who strictly developed domestically through youth soccer (not the Academy system) and the NCAA system, is a rarity in the current landscape of MLS. Roldan is proof that alternative paths still exist: he played for Union Independiente instead of a brand-name U.S. Development Academy club, then chose to represent his community by playing high school soccer — where he was named National Player of the Year, and finally had two stand-out years at the University of Washington before signing with MLS as a member of Generation adidas.
Although the guaranteed aspect of this contract is surprising, the organization’s trust in the midfielder’s ability to deliver and being an element to build the roster around is not. When Roldan was selected by Sounders during the 2015 SuperDraft, trading for Real Salt Lake’s 16th overall pick was probably Garth Lagerwey’s first brilliant move as Seattle’s new GM.
A potential harnessed by resiliency and discipline is evident in every practice. Roldan earned 11 starts during his first season and became a key player in his second season, where he made 33 appearances and started every playoff game, helping the rave green secure four clean sheets and their first MLS Cup. Roldan’s soccer IQ helped him adapt to the game quickly, and he also took advantage of mentors like Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda.
Today, the UW product is indispensable in Brian Schmetzer’s lineup, whether playing wide or in a central role in the midfield. Roldan logged more minutes than anyone else on the team during the 2018 regular season, racking up 3,444 minutes in all competitions. Roldan has also managed to add caps with the United States Men’s National Team and is in the mix of players that could be called by new head coach Gregg Berhalter this upcoming year.
Beyond his success on the field, the Pico Rivera, Calif. native is a level-headed individual who proudly represents the Hispanic-American community while seamlessly transitioning from English to Spanish and becoming a leader on the field and in the community.