Cristian Roldan

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Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan has red card rescinded

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SEATTLE (AP) Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan will be eligible to play when Seattle travels to Minnesota United after his red card from last weekend’s game was rescinded.

The team said Wednesday that it had won its appeal of Roldan’s red card from Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Los Angeles FC. Roldan would otherwise have been suspended for Saturday’s game.

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Roldan was shown the red card in the 18th minute. He and LAFC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye got into a shoving match near the midfield line. Eduard Atuesta ran in to intervene, and Roldan tried to push him off but struck Atuesta across the face.

Referee Ted Unkel, after a discussion with the sideline official, pulled out the red card, dismissing Roldan for violent conduct.

Roldan did not dispute the hand-to-the-face call. But he insisted that it was not his intent.

Shipp leads Seattle to easy home win vs. NYCFC

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Occasionally it’s as easy as this: Seattle and New York City FC both played midweek before meeting Sunday in Washington.

But Seattle played in San Jose, a two-hour flight from home, while NYCFC played one day later and was in Orlando.

[ MORE: Mitrovic in, Rondon out at NUFC ]

The less rest and long trek were evident in the legs of the visitors, who did — for what it’s worth — wind up out-shooting the hosts 19-14.

Harry Shipp had a goal and an assist, and Gustav Svensson and Cristian Roldan also scored as Seattle Sounders rolled New York City FC 3-1 at CenturyLink Field.

Jesus Medina scored NYCFC’s lone goal.

Seattle is now five points back of sixth place in the West, while NYCFC fails to keep pace with East No. 1 seed Atlanta United.

Cristian Roldan is the Sounders unassuming, unknown star

Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP
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TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) Most times when the topic of young midfielder Cristian Roldan is brought up, Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer can’t stop raving.

From the time Roldan moved into the starting lineup for the Sounders, Schmetzer has seen the potential for Roldan to be an anchor in the middle of the field. And the U.S. national team is starting to take notice, too.

“He consistently puts in good performances,” Schmetzer said. “Not just physically, but tactically and technically he puts in really solid performances.”

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Roldan will never have the big goal numbers like teammates Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris, but he’s among the players who have the Sounders on the cusp of a return to the MLS Cup final. Seattle takes a 2-0 lead into the second-leg of the Western Conference final against Houston on Thursday night. The Sounders would advance with a win, draw or even a one-goal loss.

Roldan has been the anchor for most of this year, the best of his three MLS seasons. The midfielder is worthy of consideration for the MLS Best XI and is among the options for a national team not likely to play a match of importance until 2019.

“I think it’s been positive. I still believe I have a ton to improve on and I never want to get settled on this season, on being decent,” Roldan said. “I want to get better. I want to get in to the national team consistently and next year is another year and I want to keep improving. I’ve been very happy with this year but never content and I think that’s a positive going forward.”

Roldan started 33 of 34 regular season matches this season and finished with six goals. He played the second-most minutes of anyone on Seattle’s roster.

Again, stats will never tell the full story with the Roldan. Not when his job is to be able to push forward to help the offensive attack, but sometimes race 70 or 80 yards back on defense to help shut down an offensive attack by the opposition.

It’s that ability to play both ways that drew the attention of the national team. Roldan was called up for the first time during the summer when the U.S. was playing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and made his national team debut. But the more important call up came later in the summer when Roldan was part of the camp prior to World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.

“To be in the second-to-last qualifiers where the U.S. is facing elimination for the World Cup, that’s a huge deal,” Roldan said. “Hopefully I can get to the point where I’m playing and starting every game, but to be in the running as my second call up that is big for my career going forward and I think it was big for this year as a confidence boost.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Dempsey recalled being in a similar situation as Roldan early in his career and getting that first national team call up was a huge influence on the development of his career.

“I would say confidence is a huge thing, being able to know he can play at that level. The more experience you get playing in games, playing in big games you get that confidence and also you improve,” Dempsey said. “He keeps working on his skills, keeps working on his game, looking at tape, trying to figure out ways to better himself and when you’re hungry and you work hard, you’re only going to get better. He has to keep pushing and doing what he’s doing and that’s kind of what I had to do.”

Sounders 1-1 Timbers: Stalemate in battle for Western summit

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers each missed a golden opportunity to go multiple points clear atop the Western Conference on Sunday, instead playing one another to a disjointed 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan put Seattle ahead after just 18 minutes, but Diego Valeri equalized from the penalty spot during first-half stoppage time. Seattle’s unbeaten run was extended to 11 games (six wins) in the process, though Brian Schmetzer’s side will feel like they left more on the table given the discrepancy of clear-cut scoring chances which tilted in their favor. Portland’s unbeaten run stands at three games, though their two-game mini-winning streak fell by wayside. The Sounders (42 points) remain top of the West for the time being, with the Timbers just a single point behind. Sporting Kansas City trail Seattle with two games in hand (three on Portland).

[ MORE: Pulisic, Dempsey, Bradley highlight USMNT roster for WCQ ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Roldan cleans up a goal-line scramble for 1-0 — Timbers Attempt To Defend Set Pieces, Vol. 631

45+2′ — Mattocks wins a PK, Valeri converts it — Darren Mattocks might or might not have actually been touched by anyone wearing white, but Mark Geiger gave the penalty regardless, and Valeri converted with aplomb.

56′ — Attinella denies Morris on the breakaway — Nicolas Lodeiro played Jordan Morris through with the inch-perfect through ball, and Morris even got the chance onto his favored right foot, but Jeff Attinella came off his line to make the big stop.

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Roldan (18′), Valeri (45+2′ – PK)

Who is Kenny Saief, and other USMNT Gold Cup personnel questions

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Kenny Saief is an 23-year-old American left-sided player with UEFA Champions League experience.

So why do we know so little about the Miami-born man?

The answer is pretty straight-forward: Saief’s entire career has been under-the-radar. After coming up through a series of Israeli teams, he moved to KAA Gent in Belgium. None of those matches, even adding in his representing the full Israel national team twice, got a ton of play on American soil.

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So when Saief filed his one-time switch to represent the United States, paving the way for a USMNT call-up for this summer’s Gold Cup, even those of us who’d followed his career from afar had put a limited amount of actual observation on match footage.

So here’s the long-and-short:

  • Saief turns 24 in December.
  • He moved to Gent from Israeli second tier side Ramat haSharon in 2014.
  • Played a total of 35 minutes in friendlies versus Serbia and Croatia.
  • Saief has 20 total appearances between the Europa and Champions Leagues.
  • Posted a UCL assist versus Wolfsburg in the 2015-16 Round of 16.
  • Had goal, 2 assists in UEL this season, played 180 mins vs. Spurs.
  • Has 15 goals, 9 assists in 107 apps for Gent.

Saief should get an opportunity to make an impact for Bruce Arena’s USMNT, perhaps as soon as Saturday’s friendly against Ghana in East Hartford.

Who else stands a chance to gain the most from this tournament?

Joe Corona — The 26-year-old made his thirst-inducing name in American soccer circles by scoring a pair of goals in the 2013 Gold Cup, but has just 17 caps to his name. His call-up over veterans like Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan either shows how high he’s risen or how far those veterans have fallen.

Cristian Roldan — Seattle’s hard-nosed midfielder was playing college ball at Washington just three years ago, and it’s not crazy to think strong performances could boost him onto the radar of bigger clubs abroad (let alone make him a mainstay along Kellyn Acosta with the USMNT).

Dom Dwyer — If Roldan’s rise is surprising, Dwyer’s really is astounding. It’s easy to forget that the Sporting KC star forward was playing junior college soccer in 2010 before spending one season of Division I soccer with South Florida. Now he has 57 MLS goals and a look at becoming the clinical finisher the American side has wanted for some time.

Justin Morrow and Eric Lichaj — The 29- and 28-year-old fullbacks would love to prove their mettle is as good if not better than Jorge Villafana, the current front-runner to start at left back should the Yanks complete their revitalized run to the World Cup. Lichaj, a Nottingham Forest veteran, is also adept at right back.

This isn’t to say that Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe won’t benefit from strong tournaments, but the names above have either been rescued from soccer’s scrap heap or at least Jurgen Klinsmann’s prison.