The Seattle Sounders generated plenty of excitement on Friday morning, selecting midfielder Alex Roldan with the 22nd pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia. The midfielder is mostly recognized for being the little brother of Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, but Head Coach Brian Schmetzer was quick to point out this selection provides more than just a notable last name.
"I would tell you, though, Alex is different than Cristian," Schmetzer said. "They are both super talented kids. That brother thing is a good storyline, but we picked Alex on his soccer merits.”
Originally from Pico Rivera, Calif., Roldan joined Pete Fewing's program at Seattle University in 2014. He starred for the RedHawks for four seasons, earning First Team All-WAC selections as a junior and senior. Between attending his college matches and inviting him to train with the club over the summer, the Sounders technical staff was well aware of the 21-year-old's talents.
"We know him very well," Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. "We spent a lot of time watching him, our whole staff. He has great awareness of the game. There are a lot of similarities in the way he and his brother play. It’s something for him to build on. To play for our club, you have to work hard. We’re really happy to add him.”
While the Sounders were keen on selecting Roldan, it was unknown whether he would be available with the 22nd pick. In 2015, the Sounders traded up to the 16th pick to select Cristian, but the Sounders correctly predicted they would be able to draft Alex from their original position.
“We were hopeful," General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said. "It’s 21 other people that we can’t control. So, you have a strategy and we stuck to our strategy and we were able to predict that Alex would fall to us and we took him.”
The technical staff lauds his athleticism, work rate and "the determination that comes with the Roldan family," as Schmetzer noted. Considering he joins a club that has reached the MLS Cup in each of the past two seasons, he isn't expected to come in and make an immediate impact on the pitch. Rather, Lagerwey sees him as a progression over the next three seasons. This aligns with Cristian, who went from promising rookie in 2015 to Team MVP in 2017.
"He is a technically keen player and he is tactically astute, we have high hopes for him," Schmetzer said. "And he has to measure up to his brother, so I think that will drive him to be a better player.”