Rising U.S. midfielders Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp to square off when Seattle Sounders host Columbus Crew SC

Wil Trapp Cristian Roldan 2018-05-03

When the Seattle Sounders host Columbus Crew SC on Saturday (1 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, Univision-Seattle, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS), the match will feature a midfield battle between two up-and-coming United States internationals.

Seattle’s Cristian Roldan, 22, and Columbus’ Wil Trapp, 25, are each part of the new wave of U.S. midfielders as the roster begins to turn over in 2018. Despite the U.S. not taking part in the World Cup this summer, there is still plenty of opportunity for players like Roldan and Trapp to start staking their claim before the next qualifying cycle begins in a couple years.

Trapp and Roldan earned their fourth and third caps, respectively, in a March friendly against Paraguay, one which Trapp captained. He was the captain for the U.S. U-20s during their 2013 World Cup campaign and is now in his second full season wearing the armband for Crew SC.

“He’s a leader,” Roldan said of Trapp, who has become a good friend of his. “He’s fantastic, he’s very vocal. He’s a very smart player and measures himself extremely well on the field against his competitors. His mindset and tactical ability is one of the best I’ve seen.

Rising U.S. midfielders Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp to square off when Seattle Sounders host Columbus Crew SC -

Cristian Roldan vs. Columbus last year as Wil Trapp looks on | USA Today Sports

“If you go forward as a center mid playing alongside him, he will cover for you,” Roldan added about his experience playing with Trapp. “He’s in the right spots, offensively and defensively. He’s very vocal and makes your job easy.”

Although they play slightly different positions — Trapp operates a traditional No. 6 while Roldan shines as a box-to-box No. 8 — their play continues to get better and bodes well for the future of the U.S. midfield.

“I’ve gotten the chance to know [Roldan] a lot more recently,” said Trapp. “I always just loved watching him play: his quality on the ball, the way he just drives Seattle with every facet of his game. And then getting to know him on a personal level, my respect went up for him even more. He’s a really humble, down-to-Earth guy who just loves to play soccer. You can see why he’s a fan favorite and why he has such a bright future ahead of him.”

The current U.S. talent pool is as deep as it’s been in recent memory. Players like the New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams, Schalke’s Weston McKennie, FC Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta and Toronto FC’s Marky Delgado combined with Roldan and Trapp are all part of the dynamic corps that should continue to evolve over the next four years.

Rising U.S. midfielders Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp to square off when Seattle Sounders host Columbus Crew SC -

Cristian Roldan and Wil Trapp at U.S. January Camp | Robert Mora

“I think we have an extremely talented young group, an exciting group, that is both tactically smart and physically fit,” said Roldan of the U.S. midfield. “[The future is] very bright, and hopefully I can be part of that.”

Added Trapp: “There’s a lot of young talent. There are hungry players who want to be pushing the level there and have the quality to do so and they’re only going to get better. It’s an exciting time for U.S. Soccer and U.S. Soccer fans to see a new wave of players come through.”

How Roldan and Trapp perform on Saturday will also go a long way in determining the outcome of the match. Columbus and Seattle both go as Trapp and Roldan go. Trapp is a connector and much of Crew SC’s offense depends on his ability to set up the pass before the pass in offense. Roldan, for his part, is the engine that charges Seattle forward while also doing the dirty work on defense to cut out potential threats.

“[Roldan is] great at reading the play,” Trapp said. “He does a really good job to break up plays, but then also making the right pass and scoring goals last year and this year as well, which makes him more of a threat.”

Although they’re close off the field, Roldan is still ready for a 90-minute battle on Saturday.

“I wish him the best for the rest of the season,” Roldan said with a smile, “but for this game I hope we can beat him.”

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