TUKWILA — Seattle Sounders duo Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan have both signed long-term contract extensions with the club, the players confirmed Wednesday. The deals, which are expected to be five-year contracts, make it possible for the stars to retire from MLS having played with only one team.
The Sounders are expected to make an announcement this week.
Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Morris’ base salary for the 2022 season was $1.2 million, according to figures provided by the MLS Players Association. Roldan’s base was $860,000 last year.
“I’m excited to get it done before the season and grateful to be staying in Seattle,” Morris, 28, said after training Wednesday at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. The Mercer Island grad joined the Sounders as an academy player in 2013 and first signed as a Homegrown player in 2016 after starring for Stanford.
Roldan, 27, is a California native who caught the Sounders’ attention as a University of Washington player. He was selected 16th overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
“There was interest, but I always felt that I wanted to be here,” Roldan said of whether he thought of playing elsewhere. “It was outside noise. In the end, we sorted out something that I think we’re both really happy with. I’ve said it many, many times, this is my home. This is where I’ve matured and how I’ve been received has been incredible and tremendous. To be able to be here five more years is pretty special.”
The players were entering the final year of five-year contracts signed in 2018. There was thought either might leave because they wanted to be termed as Designated Players — which would allow for more money within MLS’s salary cap structure.
Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz, midfielder Nico Lodeiro and midfielder Albert Rusnak are the team’s allotted DPs.
“The designation doesn’t matter,” Morris said. “I’m here to help the team and do whatever I can to make the team better, so the designation definitely doesn’t matter. Things worked out to definitely make me feel valued here and I’m just excited.”
Last season was Morris’ first after a second ACL tear. He had 10 goals and five assists through all competitions but struggled to close the season. The creative finisher only notched one goal in Seattle’s final 12 matches, the club missing the playoffs for the first time since it joined MLS in 2009.
Roldan had a stellar start to the 2022 season as he buoyed the club’s historic CONCACAF Champions League win, leading the tournament with eight assists. He totaled five goals and 11 assists across all competitions but was out for about a month due to a sports hernia that had to be surgically repaired.
Morris and Roldan were named to the U.S. men’s national team that competed in the FIFA men’s World Cup in Qatar. Morris played a total of three minutes in the four matches, the USMNT losing to Netherlands in the knockout round. Roldan did not play in any of the games.
With the contracts signed, Roldan and Morris will focus on leading the Sounders to the Club World Cup in Morocco next month. Seattle will play the winner of the seven-team tournament opener between Auckland City (New Zealand) and Al Ahly SC (Egypt) on Feb. 1.
The Sounders match will kick off at 9:30 a.m. PT on Feb. 4 at Stade Ibn Batouta in Tangier.
“This is the roster we won Champions League with,” Roldan said. “People are kind of overlooking that piece of it. Our squad is really good and it’s good enough to compete at a high level.”
Thomas is upgraded
Sounders keeper Andrew Thomas was able to do on-field training Wednesday for the first time in six months. He suffered a lower back stress fracture last summer and underwent “minimally invasive” surgery in September.
“The doctor has cleared him to start his ramp-up into goalkeeping drills,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “That was a positive bit of news today.”
Thomas hasn’t made his MLS debut. The former Stanford standout started 12 matches for Tacoma Defiance last season, recording 39 saves.
Schmetzer intends to travel to Morocco with the entire keepers’ unit, which is five players, including Thomas.
The Sounders will play a scrimmage at Starfire on Thursday and travel to Spain on Saturday where the team will play two scrimmages against Spanish clubs. Schmetzer expects to have the final three days of training camp in Tangier.
“The fitness work is done,” Schmetzer said. “We’ll fine-tune some tactics, set pieces, stuff like that (in Spain).”
Leyva’s quick stop
Sounders midfielder Danny Leyva is currently training with the U.S. U-20 youth national team and will join Seattle in Spain. The USMNT also has a camp this month, but clubs aren’t required to release players since it isn’t an official FIFA window. Morris and Roldan were not called up.
Listen to this
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) approved having the communication between the on-field referee and video assistant referee (VAR) aired to the public, both in the stadium and via broadcasters. The change to allow more transparency will be tested for 12 months, beginning with the Club World Cup in Morocco.
IFAB made the announcement Wednesday at its annual business meeting in London. The successful introduction of the semi-automated offside technology used in Qatar was discussed and could be adapted.
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