When Henry Wingo showed up to Seattle Sounders preseason camp, he was one of a handful of rookies looking to make their mark in 2017. The recently signed Homegrown Player is still adjusting to the professional level, but it helps having a familiar face alongside him on the pitch.
Wingo and third-year Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan were teammates for one season at the University of Washington, and Roldan’s impact on Wingo dug deeper than Roldan might have realized.
“[Roldan] led by example with his ability to play,” Wingo said. “He never gives the ball away, he just fights and fights and doesn’t quit. Those qualities are things I’ve tried to emulate in my game, they’re things that have made him an inspiration to me and have helped me learn a lot.”
A sophomore when Wingo arrived, Roldan was coming off a National Freshman of the Year campaign in which he scored seven goals and added five assists in 22 matches. He was just 19, but his standout ability resonated with his teammates and lifted the level of play around him.
“His work rate was second to none,” Wingo said of Roldan. “He just refuses to lose. He’s a guy who’s going to put everything he has into a game and work as hard as he can for the team. When you see that kind of behavior from a guy you’re playing next to, it’s really infectious, you want to be a part of it and do the same.”
Roldan and Wingo were roommates on the road and were close friends. Wingo naturally gravitated under Roldan’s wing, which helped in Wingo’s unexpected transition to a center midfielder in his sophomore season after Roldan entered the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
Roldan is impressed with Wingo’s soccer IQ and likes his work ethic, something he picked up from watching Roldan operate.
“I remember the engine that [Wingo] has, this quick first step and his ability and take players on,” Roldan said. “He’s a perfectionist. He won’t say this, but he likes to get things right and get things done.
“Ever since he stepped foot at [the University of Washington], I always thought he was going to be a good player and have a future in the game,” Roldan continued. I’m excited about his future with this club.”