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Sounders preseason notes: Cristian Roldan’s role

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It looks like we’ll be seeing Roldan out wide a lot.

TUKWILA, Wash. — After a day off to enjoy the Super Bowl festivities, the Seattle Sounders returned to training at Starfire on Monday, as they prepare for Wednesday closed-door scrimmage against the Sacramento Republic on Wednesday. Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, who missed the first phase of training while with the United States Men’s National Team, continued their reintegration with the Sounders. Notably, they both spending most of training on opposite sides of the field as wide midfielders.

That’s not much of a change for Morris, who spent most of last year there. But for Roldan, the introduction of Joao Paulo means he’ll likely move to a wide position for a majority of the year, a contingency Sounders president of soccer and general manager Garth Lagerwey had previously noted could happen.

The uncertainty surrounding the CBA meant that Lagerwey is taking a more conservative approach, so an internal solution to the loss of MLS Cup MVP Victor Rodriguez was likely. Roldan’s versatility and effectiveness on the wing makes him a prime candidate to fill the position.

“I’m always a team player, and I’m always going to play in the position I’m being asked to,” Roldan said. “It’s still a work in progress, but as games go by and as players need rest, you’ll see me in both center-mid and at right wing.”

As an attacking player, Roldan said he knows he’ll have to be mindful of the different requirements and skill-sets of the respective positions, and believes it provides an opportunity to prove his versatility as well as work on different aspects of his game.

“It’s always a challenge playing more attacking out wide, crashing the back post and scoring goals rather than defending and doing the dirty work,” Roldan said. “It’s another aspect of my game I can improve on and I’m looking forward to it.”

As a right-sided midfielder, Roldan said the tactical aspects of the game are different and that working to improve that aspect of game will be essential to being effective in that position “Counter movements are extremely important when you’re playing right mid,” Roldan said. “Pretending to make a run behind the left back and then coming to (receive the ball) and gaining that two to three yards of space and being able to identify when he follows you. When Kelvin is going forward, does the left back hold because he’s worried about Kelvin and then I’m able to turn. Those two things are very important.”

While Roldan admittedly does not have the pace that makes Morris so dangerous, he thinks his overall fitness can be an advantage, especially late in games. “It’s a battle of endurance and fitness...I don’t mind doing the chasing,” Roldan said. “Sometimes I’m going to have to that against a very attacking left back. At the same time, as he attacks, I’m ready to counter and I have the endurance to get forward.”

Other Notes

  • The scrimmage against Sacramento Republic is scheduled for 11am at CenturyLink Field, and is closed to the public.
  • The Tacoma Defiance are practicing separate from the first team, though a number of Defiance players are still practicing with the first team, including Sam Rogers and Josh Atencio.
  • The Sounders will leave for the Mexico phase of training on Thursday.