Cristian Roldan’s steady play has Sounders close to reaching CCL final

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TUKWILA – The advice was to let their game do the talking. And, phew, Cristian Roldan will not be silent.

Roldan is a central reason the Sounders are poised to advance to their first CCL Finals. In five CONCACAF Champions League appearances, the Sounders midfielder had five assists to lead the 16-team tournament.

Seattle will face New York City FC on Wednesday in the series-deciding second leg. The game will be played at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. The Sounders lead 3-1 on aggregate, with Roldan assisting Jordan Morris in the first leg victory last week at Lumen Field.

“It was a real treat to be able to find these guys,” Roldan said of Morris, Fredy Montero and Kelyn Rowe assisting with the scores in the CCL game. Seattle has 12 goals in total and has conceded just two in the tournament.

Watching Roldan dart for balls and convert them into passes for near scoring chances and deny counterattacks makes it hard to understand why he hasn’t found the pitch for the United States Men’s National Team.

Roldan and Morris were called up in March, helping the Americans qualify for the FIFA Men’s World Cup for the first time since 2014. Well, Roldan didn’t save a minute, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer stating that all of his World Cup hopefuls will use the club’s fixture list to build their arguments to justify their selection.

“It’s human nature to get upset if you’re not in a game,” said Roldan, who was an X-factor for last summer’s USMNT Gold Cup victory. “If I’m not on the pitch, I want to be the best competitor in training and be able to help the first team as much as possible. For me, it’s about focusing here (Sounders) and building relationships here and playing really well so I can have those chances when I go to the national team.

Yet the better Roldan did, the more he was criticized by USMNT supporters and some media. Hardly a day goes by without an online message dismissing Roldan’s potential value on the international stage.

DeAndre Yedlin, a Seattle native who played for the Sounders and stands out for the USMNT, saw the talk about Roldan and other Americans who are considered on the bubble to make the final Cup roster. of the USMNT world.

Orders will not be placed until the fall. The tournament will begin on November 21 in Qatar.

“Sometimes the things people say and the way people talk about certain players is not good to see for whatever reason – positive or negative,” Yedlin said. “Cristian is really true to himself and honest with himself. He knows his quality as a player inside out.

“It can be difficult as a player because it’s the decision of the coach who plays. But Cristian is a guy who comes out and whether he plays or not he gives 100%. ‘here. I can never see him losing because of his character.

Roldan has five assists in the CCL game and plans to add to that on Wednesday in hopes it will also move the Sounders forward in the tournament. No MLS team has won the CCL title.

He should have plenty of opportunities to do that with Seattle’s healthy offensive players. With the return of crafty midfielder Nico Lodeiro and the addition of midfielder Albert Rusnak, a Designated Player signed in January, Roldan was moved to the right wing. He excels in the position, developing a chemistry on the pitch with his younger brother Alex – who is in his second season starting at right-back – that baffled NYCFC last week.

The Cityzens need a minimum 2-0 win to advance, with the away goal scored at Lumen Field being the tiebreaker. Roldan said the Sounders’ goal is to keep a clean sheet for as long as possible while continuing to pressure NYCFC offensively.

“It’s always more fun to play higher up the pitch,” Cristian said. “It’s always more fun to be part of the goals, to be part of the attack. Nobody likes to defend, but that’s part of the job and at the end of the day I can play on both sides of the ball and be almost the beginning of both attack and defense.

Schmetzer didn’t make many changes to last week’s successful tactic. One massive change, however, is the expected addition of Nouhou at left-back. He missed the semi-final opener due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

NYCFC coach Ronny Deila said on Tuesday he did not expect midfielder Maxi Moralez (ribs) or defender Maxime Chanot (eye) to be available for selection. The Cityzens, who are the defending MLS Cup champions, weren’t creative in their attacking moves last week without Moralez.

“You don’t want to change things,” Schmetzer said. “You just have to be ready that if the opponent does something to neutralize what you’ve done well, you’re ready on the opposite wing. … Let’s keep doing what we’re doing on the right because it was pretty And let’s make sure that on the left we’re ready to be as effective.

So far, Roldan has not been contained. And if his game takes the Sounders to the CCL Finals, that should say a lot when it comes to USMNT calls.

“We’re playing well right now and we have to keep it that way,” Roldan said. “We know (New York City) is going to step up a notch. It’s a do or die situation.

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