Cristian Roldan

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Most to gain (or lose) from decisive USMNT matches

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The United States men’s national team will not be changing coaches regardless of the scores against Canada and Cuba this month, giving added incentive to 23 men called into the team to get the job done.

Long- and short-term injuries continue to open the door to players well past Gregg Berhalter’s top 23, even deeper considering the concurrent U-23 camp and the coach’s apparent disinterest in some other players still performing well in Europe.

Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, and Michael Bradley picked up injuries that won’t allow them to join the team, while Timothy Weah and Tyler Adams have just restarted training with their clubs after long injury absences. Miles Robinson is still absent after being injured at the last camp and missing Atlanta’s playoff run

Throw in Berhalter’s decision not to call up Matt Miazga, Duane Holmes, and Julian Green to go with Jozy Altidore‘s lack of fitness, and you’ve got another month for some players to surprise (We haven’t even mentioned Antonee Robinson, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Richie Ledezma are at a loaded U-23 camp).

Edit note: Maybe we need to write up a Top 50 USMNT depth chart this evening or soon…

Chase Gasper and Corey Baird were sent home from camp ahead of the European arrivals, so here are the players whose fortunes could hinge on delivering for a coach who needs it. Make no mistake about it: Earnie Stewart’s vote of confidence means the coach is going nowhere, but anyone who helps Berhalter score a berth in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals will take a place near his heart.

Who’s gotta carpe sabbati? Read on…

Sebastian Lletget ,Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan (in that order) — We probably wrote something similar to this last month, but future camps without Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, and Weston McKennie are only going to happen if all are (again) injured or there is absolutely nothing on the line against Jamaica’s B Team.

Include Bradley’s absence and you’ll get an even deeper understanding of why who is chosen alongside McKennie and (probably) Alfredo Morales for this big match against Canada is a big deal. Lletget is 27 and Berhalter hasn’t shown a lot of love for him despite bringing a unique skill set and decent performances when he’s been given time on the USMNT pitch. Roldan might be the best non-prospect American player in MLS. Yueill is just 22, but again there are a lot of absent players ahead of him. We’re not included Wil Trapp in this discussion because he’s clearly a Berhalter favorite.

Out-fight Scott Arfield and out-fox Jonathan Osorio, and give Berhalter a reason to keep calling you into the fold.

The goalkeepers — There’s no reason to expect Zack Steffen to lose his first XI spot through injury, especially given his status as a Bundesliga starter on loan from a Champions League outfit — Oh, and he was Berhalter’s club No. 1, too! — but at some point these goalkeeper call-ups and their performances will determine who will be Nos. 2 and 3 for qualifying and for, probably, the 2022 World Cup.

Jonathan Klinsmann, Ethan Horvath, and Brady Scott aren’t here, and boy did Leicester City’s Chituru Odunze open some eyes during the U.S. flame-out at the U-17 World Cup.

So here’s Brad Guzan, the presumptive No. 1 in a post-Tim Howard world who proved presumptions aren’t foolproof.

Only two of Sean Johnson‘s eight caps were not friendlies, and both were Gold Cup clean sheets (six years apart). Might he get a chance in Orlando?

And Matt Turner is new here after an outstanding 2019 season in MLS. You can bet Berhalter rang up a respected Bruce Arena to get plenty of info before calling in the New England Revolution’s No. 1.

Aaron Long — This isn’t about gaining a spot on the squad, as the 27-year-old Long looks like a mainstay for Berhalter, rather a steady place in the XI. Miazga not being here could’ve been heard as a clarion call to the center backs who were called up.

Long has struggled in his past few months wearing the national team shirt, and a healthy John Brooks is an automatic starter. That leaves one spot, a pivotal one given Berhalter’s preferential formation, and Walker Zimmerman is a better passer than Long. This is a big camp for proving whether the Red Bulls man is a starter or security blanket.

Three things from USMNT 1-1 Uruguay

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The United States men’s national team rallied for a late goal, its first in 262 minutes, to save Gregg Berhalter’s program the blushes that would’ve come with losing to Mexico’s A-minus and Uruguay’s B team in successive weeks.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

The Yanks struggled for large swaths of the 1-1 draw, but did have some bright showings from some veteran players and a Uruguayan teen who is going to give MLS defenses a lot of problems on LAFC’s run towards an MLS Cup.

Rodriguez shows DP credentials as Long struggles for 2nd-straight match

Brian Rodriguez is new to LAFC, the club who seemingly cannot stop signing excellent young talent, but his first goal on American soil was not in MLS play.

A lightning quick counter sent the 19-year-old 1v1 with Aaron Long, and Rodriguez sent the New York Red Bulls center back out for beer and peanuts.

Long’s mauling style at center back has been his strength, and helped shoot him up the USMNT pecking order and even had him sought by West Ham United.

But Long was also cooked on a transition goal against Mexico in addition to being slow to react to Tecatito’s roasting of Sergino Dest on El Tri’s first goal.

The Red Bulls man’s passing numbers are poor in MLS, and he’s not a possession-first player. He’s there to bail his team out through tackling and win balls. Neither happened too often this international break.

Poor field plus second-choice players leads to devalued product

The U.S. Soccer Federation cannot control whether Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez report for Uruguay duty when they announce that the CONMEBOL side is coming to St. Louis, and it has only a little bit more say whether Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, and Weston McKennie stick around for both matches of a break.

What the more than half-empty — at least from the television camera side — tells us about this friendly is that fans weren’t clamoring to head a baseball field despite two St. Louis-born players in the team.

You have to wonder what slipping all over a turf-covered baseball field might say to Sergino Dest, a dual national used to playing on pristine surfaces in Europe with Ajax.

Was this the last time we’ll ever see the well-decorated youth international in a USMNT shirt? Regardless of whether the questionable nature of playing on a goofy pitch plays in the role, it would be an odd subplot of an uneasy international break.

And more basic than Dest’s feelings, the product was crap in those areas of the field. Maybe we just need our own Wembley in Kansas City, as was once discussed.

  • That said, what a great moment for Josh Sargent in his hometown

Before Josh Sargent was getting minutes at center forward as a teenager at Werder Bremen, he was a phenom playing ball in St. Louis.

As John Strong said on the broadcast, this field was where Sargent saw dozens of Cardinals games growing up.

Still a teenager for four months, Sargent was at the heart of what should’ve been a penalty against Jose Maria Gimenez for handball. He dropped well into the hear of the midfield to help in possession, and ran his shorts off (expected of a youngster, but not always observed).

Morris, Ream, Roldan rewarded with roles on late equalizer

There weren’t many stars for the USMNT on Tuesday, but the three brightest Americans all helped produce the goal to tie the score.

It took some luck — a fourth player, Nick Lima, had one cross blocked and got an assist when a ball deflected off him — but Ream’s spotting of Cristian Roldan got the ball to Lima, and Morris built on a solid sub role on Friday with a body goal at the back post.

Roldan had probably his best game in a USMNT shirt, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Seattle midfielder’s job was based more on industry and energy than acute passes and playmaking.

In any event, he was good. Ream was very decent at center back when he wasn’t passing sideways (for whatever reason, he was inaccurate with those but not the tougher balls into the thick of Uruguay). And Morris is clearly back to the confidence and form we saw when he was a surprise call-up out of Stanford. A nice moment.

And is Ream the easy third-choice center back behind John Brooks and Matt Miazga? Or is he possibly No. 2?

USMNT draws Uruguay on late Morris goal

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Jordan Morris’ late goal rescued a draw for the United States men’s national team in a 1-1 draw against Uruguay which saw two B teams hoping to make an impression on their coaches.

LAFC young star Brian Rodriguez got his first goal on U.S. soil with a sensational marker to give the CONMEBOL giants a lead. No. 5 ranked La Celeste was without surnames Suarez, Godin, Cavani, and Stuani, while the U.S. was without Pulisic, Brooks, McKennie, and Adams.

The Morris goal was the Yanks’ first since the Gold Cup semifinal, the Yanks twice blanked by Mexico in between the markers.

[ MORE: Three things | Player ratings ]

The first two dangers moments came through Uruguay, the final ball bungled by the visitors after a counter down the right before a counter down the left also came up short.

Sebastian Lletget crossed well for Cristian Roldan, but the Sounders midfielder saw his header saved by Fernando Muslera.

If Uruguay’s first chance should’ve been 1-0, then Tyler Boyd’s 22nd minute miss would’ve been 1-1. Jordan Morris spun a pretty cross toward the back post, but Boyd couldn’t get enough purchase and hit off the bottom of the bar from inside the six.

Hometown center back Tim Ream made an incredible block a minute later when Brad Guzan spilled a ball toward the penalty spot.

And Uruguay should’ve conceded a penalty when Jose Gimenez handled a cross while contending a 50/50 against Josh Sargent.

Mostly, though, the first half was a snooze. It slowed down considerably after some early excitement.

That changed early in the second half, as the USMNT was slow to react to a turnover in possession. Uruguay tore down the field with little resistance, and Rodriguez absolutely cooked Aaron Long before sending a rocket past Guzan.

Muslera made a fine save on a Morris header as Boyd spun a cross to the back post in the 58th.

The Yanks made some subs, and one of them had a funny role in the goal. While Ream and Roldan made incisive passes to set up Nick Lima, the San Jose defender saw his block crossed and then a clearance turn off of him and onto the path of Morris for a body goal.

USMNT player ratings from Uruguay draw

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The United States men’s national team did not shine in a 1-1 draw with Uruguay on Tuesday in St. Louis, but neither the hosts nor the visitors brought anything resembling an A-team to the party.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some decent entertainment along the way, and we’ll let you know who took their chance to stand out of a lesser soiree to get another look when the A-listers arrive at the front door.

Starting XI

Brad Guzan — 5 — The one-time surefire replacement for Tim Howard did nothing to say he should move up the pecking order, even in the wake of Zack Steffen‘s continued poor distribution choices in a U.S. shirt.

Reggie Cannon (Off 75′) — 6 — Just fine. Not a wide pest for the opposition as we’ve seen in the past, but he had to be a little more defensive with Long to his left.

Aaron Long (Off 65′) — 4 — A terrible international break for the Red Bulls star, who was front-and-center for three opposition goals in five days. Will the mauler rebound during the CONCACAF Nations League next month?

Tim Ream — 7 —  Ream was very good, bailing out Brad Guzan for first half spillage. Oddly enough, he made several incisive passes look easy — including one that led up to Morris’ goal — but sent Aaron Long running on easier sideways passes. Sports!

Sergino Dest (Off 70′) — 5 — Made his fair share of 18-year-old mistakes again but the flashes of brilliance, everyone, they are just… so… darn… bright. It will be a big blow for the USMNT if he ultimately chooses the Netherlands.

Jackson Yueill — 6 — Was neither incredible, nor poor, and hit a couple of eye-opening passes to free his wingers. But what he did do was show that we ought to see what he can do in the holding midfield role rather than keep giving 75-90 minute turns to Wil Trapp.

Cristian Roldan — 7 — Allowed to run his shorts off without the focus of acute attacking third responsibilities, the Sounders man probably had his best game in a U.S. shirt.

Sebastian Lletget — 7 — He’s better than most people realize, and delivered a number of creative passes and moments of vision which are becoming staples of his game. Hopefully we get the chance to see him interacting with a midfield including McKennie or Pulisic more often (or even show that he’s good enough centrally to keep Pulisic at his pulsating best position of wing).

Tyler Boyd (Off 65′) — 5 — A couple good crosses and 1v1 dribbles, but ultimately his sophomore call-up qualifies as a small slump.

Josh Sargent (Off 75′)  — 6 — The hometown hero did plenty of good at the ballpark of his favorite baseball team. Could’ve won a penalty if the referee used his eyes efficiently.

Jordan Morris (Off 85′)  — 7 (MOTM) — A really nice night for the Sounders star, who is working really well as a winger. Some terrific crosses and vision could’ve led to a goal before he bodied one home to tie the score late.

Jordan Morris scores past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera . (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Substitutes

Corey Baird (On 65′) — 6 — Some decent moments on the wing, but still a mile away from being a starting-caliber option.

Miles Robinson (On 65′) — 6 — The Atlanta United youngster was barely troubled during his half-hour (ish) of time.

Daniel Lovitz (On 70′) — 6 — Same as Robinson.

Nick Lima (On 75′) — 7 — There are times when you think Nick Lima should be in a righteous fight with DeAndre Yedlin for starting right back status (when Berhalter isn’t using Tyler Adams in the spot), and Tuesday was one of them. Right place, right time for the late assist.

Gyasi Zardes (On 75′) — 6 — The anti-hero a national program needs. Yes, you’re in a lot of trouble if he’s your regular starting center forward, but he’s a match-up problem athletically and goes to the dirty areas to finish chances. Is there a place for him if Jozy Altidore, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah are healthy? No, probably not (but he’ll be there).

Paxton Pomykal (On 85′) — n/a — Congrats on the debut, kid. Wish we could’ve seen more of you.

Sounders hold off Galaxy in seven-goal thriller (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less):  The seven-goal spectacle between the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy was just as enthralling as the neck-and-neck playoff race both team’s are in. In fact, the game pretty much had it all: a brace, a goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and, of course, a late game-winning goal. Galaxy never had the lead, having to play from behind and tying it up in three different occasions. Ibrahimovic scored his 23rd of the season, while Uriel Antuna and Jørgen Skjelvik pitched in one each. The true difference maker featured on the home side, however. Cristian Roldan, registering only his second brace in his career, inspired the Sounders’ crucial victory that has them two points clear (46) of third-place San Jose Earthquakes (44) with six regular season games remaining. Nothing is set in stone yet, but at the very minimum, Seattle can feel like they’re one foot in the playoffs. The Galaxy, however, will play a lead role in this season’s Decision Day, if they continue their recent ways.

Three moments that mattered

45′ — Ruidiaz breaks deadlock — The Peruvian with some early foreshadowing of what was to come.

66′ — Zlatan uplifts Galaxy’s hopes — Ibrahimovic now has 23 goals in the same number of appearances this season.

89′ — Roldan earns Seattle three, precious points — With a playoff race as tight as the Western Conference’s, Roldan’s  two-goal performance couldn’t come at a better time.

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Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Ruidiaz (45′), Roldan (55′), Ibrahimovic (66′), Antuna (75′), Morris (77′), Skjelvik (81′), Roldan (89′)