The 2018 soccer season has officially begun for Cristian Roldan.
The 22-year-old midfielder wrapped up his first day of preseason training with the United States national team on Thursday, as a group of 30 young Americans, including Sounders teammate Jordan Morris, gathered at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California for January Camp. The camp runs through the end of the month, with the Stars and Stripes facing Bosnia and Herzegovina in a friendly at the StubHub Center on Sunday, January 28.
“It’s an exciting group,” Roldan told media following Thursday’s training session. “I think everybody is excited to make an impression. It’s a huge honor – I value these opportunities, and the first day was fantastic.”
In addition to fitness testing, the group spent their day of camp getting acclimated with one another. One-third of the players are appearing in their first-ever U.S. camp, with 21 of the 30 attendees age 24 and under. Roldan, who earned his first cap last summer during the CONCACAF Gold Cup, looks to continue his ascension up the midfield depth chart.
“I want to get as much playing time as I can,” said Roldan. “There is a lot of competition here. It’s going to be tough. I want to play as much as I can and make as good as an impression as I can here.”
Considering the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the camp undoubtedly has a different feel with no competitive matches in the near future. This allows young talent to make their case for the years ahead.
“For us, individually, we have a lot to play for,” Roldan said. “It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. Hopefully you can continue on with the national team for a long time in your career and this is where it starts.”
Better yet for Roldan, the camp takes place in his backyard. His hometown of Pico Rivera is located just 20 miles away from the training center.
“[There’s] nothing like repping the U.S., and even better in Los Angeles.”