With Wednesday’s news that Cristian Roldan is returning to the Seattle Sounders on a new contract extension, one of the most important players in club history is staying in Rave Green for the foreseeable future.
It’s hard to overstate the impact the stalwart midfielder has made in Seattle since his arrival as the No. 16 overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Washington. It’s no stretch to say he’s already a club legend at the age of 27, proving an all-out Iron Man with 227 MLS appearances and key contributions to the club’s pair of MLS Cup titles and Concacaf Champions League victory.
With his extension in Seattle now official, here’s a look back at five of Roldan’s best Seattle moments to date as he kicks off his second act.
96-second brace vs. San Jose
Goal-scoring might not be Roldan’s primary calling card, but his ability to consistently stuff the statsheet in addition to all the dirty work is part of what makes him such a valuable player. On July 23, 2017, Roldan showed a glimpse into that aspect of his game during just his second MLS season, tagging the San Jose Earthquakes for a brace in a 96-second span, which remains the fastest brace in club history.
The first came in the 54th minute when he pounced on a flicked header from Gustav Svensson for the game’s opening goal. He then found the second on virtually the very next sequence of play following the restart, bodying a San Jose defender off the ball and converting a close-range finish.
When Roldan does find the scoresheet, it’s also often proven to be of the highlight-reel variety. Look no further than the pair of epic strikes he’s unleashed against Minnesota United over the last few years, first on May 4, 2019. Take a look at this first-time strike from outside the area, which silenced the home crowd at Allianz Field.
The second one occurred at Lumen Field on May 15, 2022, with Roldan this time delighting the home crowd with another golazo at the expense of Minnesota. This one was also a perfectly placed distance finish, with the added flourish of the nifty spin-move on the follow-through.
Game-winner caps wild comeback vs. D.C.
From a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 victory. It was the biggest comeback in MLS history, and it was Roldan who scored the game-winning goal when the Sounders managed the feat against D.C. United on July 19, 2017.
Facing the three-goal deficit in the 50th minute, Seattle staged a furious second-half tally, eventually tying the score 3-3 behind goals from Will Bruin, Brad Evans and Gustav Svensson. Roldan then sent the home crowd into bedlam, improbably finishing off the four-goal-in-27-minute barrage with a breakaway game-winner.
Roldan has saved some of his best for some of the biggest occasions, including as a perpetual thorn in the side of Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers, against whom he’s scored multiple massive goals and garnered some epic results.
We’ll focus on his memorable performance on May 23, 2017, when he scored the eventual game-winning goal on a fourth-minute strike. That was also the same match where Roldan memorably mixed it up with Sebastian Blanco in an on-field exchange of words between the midfielders.
HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Club León | March 09, 2022
Nowhere was Roldan’s on-field impact more apparent than during last season’s victorious Concacaf Champions League run, which saw the relentless midfielder at his do-everything best throughout the whole tournament. Playing against increasingly high-level Concacaf opposition, Roldan was up to the task playing on the right wing, racking up five assists and landing a spot on the CCL Best XI.