SEATTLE — Cristian Roldan said he was delighted the Seattle Sounders were able to win two games this week “without their big-time guys” Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris.
In their absence, he might have solidified his own status as a big-timer.
Roldan scored twice in less than two minutes in the second half and newly acquired Kelvin Leerdam got his first MLS goal, leading the Sounders past the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 Sunday night.
All three goals came in a span of 11 minutes for the Sounders (8-7-6), who won their second straight and are on a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1).
On Wednesday, Roldan scored the winner in a 4-3 victory against D.C. United as Seattle became the first team in MLS history to come from three goals down and triumph in regulation time.
On Sunday, his two goals, separated by just 97 seconds, were the fastest two goals for a league game in franchise history.
“I think the team is just clicking at the moment,” said Roldan, who was with the U.S. national team for the early portion of the Gold Cup before returning to the Sounders early last week. “For me personally, the international level is a little bit faster, and you have to think and take a better first touch. … Now that maybe it has slowed down a little bit (back in MLS), I was able to step in there and play my part.”
Dempsey and Morris are still with the Americans, who will face Jamaica in the Gold Cup final on Wednesday in Santa Clara, California.
Roldan put Seattle on the board in the 54th minute. A long throw-in by Leerdam about 20 yards up from the goal line on the right side was headed across the penalty area by Gustav Svensson. Roldan got his head on it at the top left corner of the 6-yard box and sent it into the back corner.
After San Jose kicked off, Roldan quickly regained possession and took the ball down the right side into the box. He deked past Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez. Then, from just outside the 6, he sent a shallow shot across the goalmouth and into the far side.
Roldan actually had two chances for a hat trick, but goalkeeper David Bingham deflected one of them over the top in the 59th minute, then Rolden hit the left post in the 79th.
“You could tell that when he came back from the national team camp, that kind of energized him a little bit,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. “He senses that he can play at that level. We’ve always believed he could play at that level. Now, he is actually finding that out for himself. That little bit of self-reflection and confidence that he can play at that level certainly has helped him down here.”
Leerdam, signed on July 1 from Dutch club Vitesse, was directly in front of the left post to knock in Joevin Jones’ corner kick from the far side in the 65th minute.
The Sounders pushed above the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 2015 season, when they finished at 15-13-6. They were at .500 three times in 2016, but never above it before going on to win their first MLS Cup. This year, they’ve also been at .500 three times, but never above it.
The Earthquakes (7-9-5) lost their third straight, including Wednesday’s 5-1 blowout at the New York Red Bulls.
“We were moving the ball well in the first half and even parts of the second,” San Jose coach Chris Leitch said. “We have to be a little more assertive in that final third. We’re playing to try to get the first goal. But when you don’t get the first goal, that makes it tough for sure.”