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Prospecting the draft: Cristian Roldan

A dynamic midfielder for Washington is just one of several underclassman who could be taken near the top of the class. Should Roldan sign a Generation Adidas deal he should be a strong contender to be taken in the top 5 thanks to his impressive skills.

Roldan playing for Timbers U-23 in the Homegrown game this past summer
Roldan playing for Timbers U-23 in the Homegrown game this past summer
Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year has been one of the top rated prospects in the United States for some time now.  After his freshman year at Washington he was already a potential high selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft but he returned to school for another year.  Now, with two years of college play under his belt, Roldan could be in line for a Generation adidas deal and a high selection in the draft.

Roldan is one of four underclassmen who could conceivably go number one should they all sign deals with the league this winter.  Along with Cyle Larin of the University of Connecticut, Joshua Yaro of Georgetown University, and Abu Danladi of UCLA he could be part of an exciting draft board.  It really will come down to who signs GA deals and the needs of the teams at the top of the draft but there is a great chance that Roldan winds up being a top five selection should he forgo his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility.

In his freshman year, Roldan made an instant impact in the Pac-12 earning himself Soccer America's National Freshman of the Year award.  It was well deserved given the 7 goals and 5 assists that he tallied while making 22 appearances in the midfielder.  He showed in his first year that he has the ability to completely take over a game from almost anywhere in the midfield.

His sophomore year was not quite as dominant in terms of the numbers but he still showed enough to keep MLS scouts excited about him.  He is a creative midfielder who can play that central attacking role but can also work out on the wings thanks to his ability to take on defenders using his pace and skill on the ball.  His coach at Washington, Jamie Clark, has even noted that he could be capable of playing in a deeper role in MLS should a team need him there.

Roldan did an interview with American Soccer Now earlier this year which is certainly worth taking the time to read since it does a good job of profiling who he is not only as a player but also a person.  It also gives a glimpse of how he went from being a barely scouted high school senior to being one of the top MLS prospects in just a few short years.  The interview also includes 9-year-old Roldan in an adidas commercial which is certainly worth the click.

His biggest plus is his ability when the ball is at his feet.  He is strong on the dribble and able to go on long runs through the middle of the park despite drawing a lot of attention from opponents.  Once Roldan has the ball at his feet defenders on the other team are not going to have an easy time taking it away from him.  Combine that with his athleticism and he can cause havoc by running at defenders to either get himself into a dangerous place for a scoring chance or pulling defenders in before picking out one of his teammates.

While Roldan may not be the biggest player on the field most of the time he uses his physical skills to help him even be a threat in the air.  He has the ability to get around defenders or even out jump them thanks to his athletic ability which just adds another threat to his game.  He even managed to get on the end of some crosses for goals during the part two NCAA seasons.

The highlights of his 2013 season with Washington should give you a good idea of just why he is one of the top rated prospects in the nation and a member of the very deep US U-20 program.

In that video you can clearly see his skill on the ball and the number of different problems that he can cause for defenders.  Those highlights and plenty of more plays like them are why MLS was knocking on his door last season to try and get him to sign a Generation adidas deal and while his 2014 was not as filled with goals and assists it was filled with more similar quality plays.

Along with playing for Washington in the fall, Roldan also played in the PDL for the Washington Crossfire in 2013.  He only made 6 appearances that summer but managed to tally 3 goals in those games and was an impact player when he was on the field.  He again was limited in his appearances in 2014 as he featured in 7 games for the Crossfire and once again found the back of the net three times.

Roldan was also part of the MLS Homegrown game where he played for the Portland Timber's U-23 squad against the Homegrown team during All-Star week.  He put in a strong performance that showed he has what it takes to compete against the top young talent in MLS despite still being just 19-years-old.

The addition of more reserve teams in USL Pro next season could be something that helps Roldan make the transition to the professional game.  Even with the extra year of college soccer under his belt he is probably still a year of good development away from being a player who is capable of being a consistent contributor in MLS.  He could be the kind of player to provide a spark off the bench as a rookie but getting consistent, professional minutes in USL Pro might be the best option for him.

The Toronto FC perspective on him is that he might just be available when their first pick rolls around in the SuperDraft but if the team is drafting based on their own needs he does not make the most sense.  With Manuel Aparicio already under contract and Jay Chapman likely to sign the team has two young players who play a similar role to Roldan so they may be inclined to look elsewhere even if the California native does slip to them on draft day.

Should TFC have the chance to land Roldan on draft day his biggest appeal may be the versatility that he can bring.  With the skill set that he has to offer he can play basically anywhere in the attacking portion of your squad.  He may have spent most of his time at Washington as a CAM but he has shown that he is capable of playing out wide and even as a forward when needed.  That kind of versatility would make him a good fit for many teams if if they already have options at CAM like TFC have.

Roldan may not be ready to make an instant impact in 2015 but his skills should make him one of the more exciting prospects in this draft.  His ceiling should be among the highest of any player on the draft board should he be signed to a Generation adidas deal.