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Cristian Roldan returns to Sounders a champion

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After his third trip to the Gold Cup, Cristian Roldan comes home with a winner’s medal.

Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup Socce-USA at Mexico Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders got back one of their missing key players on Monday. Fresh from celebrating a win in the Gold Cup Final with the US Men’s National Team, Cristian Roldan rejoined the club having missed the last five games due to international duty.

Roldan’s trip to the Gold Cup represented his third time competing in the competition, but his first time receiving a winner’s medal. In spite of having been part of the team that won the 2017 Gold Cup, Roldan had been replaced following the group stage and so wasn’t technically a “winner” that time around. Although his role in Gregg Berhalter’s team in this tournament wasn’t as big as Sounders fans may have hoped or expected, Roldan still played an important part in the team’s success.

After sitting on the bench for the USMNT’s opening game of the tournament, Roldan appeared in each of the team’s other five games. His five appearances in this year’s tournament tied his total Gold Cup appearances from the two previous tournaments. Roldan also managed to snag his first assist with the national team as he put in a team-leading performance in a 6-1 win over Martinique, his lone start of the tournament. He went on to add another assist, a beauty of a cross that sent the US past Jamaica in the quarterfinals.

Roldan may not have started in the final, but he subbed on in the 66th minute against Mexico and helped as the game went into overtime and the US pushed for a winner. Roldan had come on as a sub in the final against Mexico in 2019 around the hour mark as well, but his fortunes were reversed this time.

Having Roldan back and available, if not necessarily ready to start, on Wednesday against FC Dallas should provide the Sounders with a boost. Prior to joining the national team for the Gold Cup Roldan had worn the captain’s armband for seven consecutive games. Beyond that emotional lift, Roldan is arguably one of the best central midfielders in the league and will allow players like Kelyn Rowe, Josh Atencio, and Danny Leyva to carry less of the load as the Sounders look to break what has suddenly turned into a losing streak. The Sounders have gone 7-0-5 in Roldan’s 12 starts this year.