US Soccer

Cristian Roldan hoping to make “lasting impression” with U.S. national team, solidify spot in 2018

Cristian Roldan U.S. January camp 2018-01-26

As the Seattle Sounders continue to ramp up their preseason in Chula Vista, Calif., there are two noticeable absences.

Forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan are each about an hour north in Los Angeles, training with the United States national team at January camp ahead of a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 at the StubHub Center. The camp is Roldan’s second after being called in last summer for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and he’s eager to make this go-around count just as much as the first.

“It’s extremely positive to be back,” Roldan said. “It’s a privilege and an honor to be back and be called into camp, whether it’s your first one or your last one. You don’t want to take it for granted.”

Roldan earned his first cap in a start against Martinique in the Gold Cup group stage, and he now joins a cast of U.S. players with little to no international experience. This marks a strong contrast to previous camps, and without a World Cup to look forward to this summer, represents an emblematic changing of the guard as the USMNT rebuilds.

“In a way, yes,” Roldan said when asked if the vibe of the team was different given it won’t be heading to Russia. “With this young group, we don’t know what to expect. We don’t have a lot of caps all together as a group, so we’re just trying to take it step by step and make a lasting impression on the coaching staff here right now.

“It’s a positive start,” he continued. “It starts with a good base, a good foundation. Young guys, especially in MLS, have been doing well. We’re excited about this group and we’re looking forward to the game against Bosnia.”

Cristian Roldan hoping to make “lasting impression” with U.S. national team, solidify spot in 2018 -

Roldan hit the ground running with the Sounders following his return from U.S. camp last summer, scoring three goals in his first two matches and helping Seattle go 5-0-1 in his first six games back. He credits the pace of the international game, which has spurred an even quicker development from someone who is becoming one of the best box-to-box midfielders in MLS.

“When I got back, the game slowed down a little bit,” Roldan said. “[The Sounders] had me playing as a No. 10 in a more attacking role, so I was definitely seeing a little bit more and scored a couple more goals. The speed of play is ultimately what got me there. Playing with talented guys and the fitness I gathered from the Gold Cup definitely helped spark my midseason form.”

After a breakout year that saw Roldan lead the league in tackles and duels won, score a career-high six goals and earn Team MVP honors, 2018 will be a massive opportunity for him to cement his place with the U.S. for the foreseeable future. If all goes well, a spot on the 2022 World Cup roster in Qatar may very well await.

“Hopefully I’ve made a lasting impression and hopefully I can continue in that way,” Roldan said. “I’m excited. The international career is a tough one, but I want to make the most of it.”

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